Sankarea – 13

This extra episode, curiously not available until after episode “14”, is a “The Story So Far” as told by Babu the cat (who we’ve never heard talk before, let alone narrate), and an exercise in slice-of-life – or slice-of-undead, as it were. Babu enjoys his only slightly-different cat life, while Rea enjoys her new-found freedom and immense strength. Furuya is ever the scolding, worry-prone companion, but both Babu and Rea are on the same page: they’re living “life” to the fullest, for they never know if or when their bodies will rot away to nothing.

And then, just when you thought this was just one last parting peek into their lives, a plane flies overhead, with a woman on board with a zombie owl, who may be a zombie herself, musing on a zombie’s “Confused Period”, in which it mindlessly devours its family and friends. Which seems to be a prelude to some kind of continuation of Sankarea down the road. Which wouldn’t be unwelcome; just surprising. After all, it’s been a most enjoyable series, and it was nice to hear that hauntingly beautiful ED theme one more time.


Rating: 7 (Very Good)

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Sankarea – 14

With Dan’ichiro away, Rea’s stepmother Aria live alone in the house, eating little, drinking much, getting driven to Rea’s school where she is headmistress, and generally being bored out of her mind. Meanwhile, Mero finds an unconscious girl under the temple and brings her in. The girl won’t talk but seems to have it in for Rea, and proceeds to stealthily harass and terrorize her. Once the jig is up and the others confront her, she runs out to the graveyard, where she reveals she’s Aria. Furuya lectures her on being nicer to her daughter, and she fumes and unleashes a torrent of glowing rain. She then wakes up in her bathtub. It was only a dream, but Rea and Furuya had it to.

Bored, miserable, and under-, nay, non-sexed, and always deep into a bottle of Vitamin XO, Aria tries to take her frustrations out on the only person she has control over besides her mocking household staff: her stepdaughter. When she starts touching herself in the tub and goes underwater, and the episode then cuts to the Furuya residence, we thought that would pretty much all we’d see of Aria. How wrong we were! The entirety of the episode after that only took place in a dream, albeit a dream that she, Rea, and Furuya had at the same time. It’s a clever little device, but we have to admit, when the girl reveals she’s Aria (with her beauty spot), we were a little lost for a moment. How is a little girl Rea’s mom???

Happily, the episode explains itself soon thereafter, and everything ends up making sense…more or less. And hey, the dream even ends up changing Aria’s tune; she ultimately decides the petty punishment she was forcing the school to mete out to Rea simply out of spite didn’t catch her fancy anymore. What’s funny is that Furuya’s rejection of the dream-Aria was an interaction between the two that actually happened and wasn’t just a dream. That makes this more interesting, because the typical “never happened” or “reset button” aspects of dream episodes don’t apply here.


Rating: 8 (Great)

Eureka Seven AO – 24 (Fin)

Renton tells Ao and Pied Piper about how the Scub Coral used quartz to travel across parallel universes, but when they approached Earth, were attacked by the Secrets. The Scub Coral traveled to Earth’s past to escape, but to no avail, and Scub Bursts were born. Renton believes it’s his duty to restore the natural timeline by destroying the first coral, even if it means sacrificing himself and Eureka. Ao disagrees, flies into the pole light, and goes back ten years to when Eureka became quartz to protect him. Renton follows, and the two are reunited. Ao tells them to flee, and stays behind to fire the quartz gun once more. Having saved his parents and secured their happiness, he wanders time and space for a time, returning to Iwato Island in 2027.

This final episode had a lot to say do and no extended amount of time to do it (save abstaining from an OP), and while at times it struggled under the weight of its own convoluted explanations and convictions, it handled the task quite well. The series amounts to a jigsaw, the peripheral pieces of which had been set into place in a scatter-shot manner, always holding back till the end, which was this. The final pieces, the ones that bring the whole picture together, were set down. Now that we can see the picture clearly, the series could just as well have been titled Eureka Seven AI. “Ai” as in Love. Love brought Ao into the world and his parents’ love protected him.

Ultimately his love for them drove his decision to repay them for giving him life and preserving it by saving his mom and making sure she reunited with his dad. Despite growing up without either of them in his life until then, he turned out to be a pretty grateful kid. And we really can’t criticize his sentiment; he quite literally wouldn’t exist without them. The love they had for each other, then, was the real truth of this whole series. As for Truth, the guy? Yeah, he was an evil villain in one universe, but a Nirvash archetype in another. Go figure! Fleur, Elena, and Naru? They kinda get hosed in this episode. When an older, longer-haired Ao arrives at the post-quartz world of 2027, we unfortunately don’t get to see them, or how they might have changed. A wrap-up montage would have been nice.


Rating: 9 (Superior)

Eureka Seven AO – 23

Fleur fights Naru while Elena fights Truth, but Naru easily evades them all and escapes with Truth, citing even Ao’s Nirvash has no archetype and isn’t alive. Ao and Harlequin catch up to Truth and Naru at the Okinawa Plant Coral, where Truth backstabs Naru and grabs the Quartz Gun and fires it. Ao opens his eyes to another rewritten history where Truth never existed and he just destroyed the Allied forces stole the coral relic IFO, saving the world. Renton emerges from the portal and confronts Ao, who gets news that Eureka has appeared on the Triton. Renton and Ao hurry there, where the family is briefly reunited.

It’s been such a good Fall season, we’d put Eureka Seven AO completely out of our minds, so the arrival of the final two episodes was a shock, but a pleasant one. The penultimate episode wastes no time jumping back into the action after leaving us hanging…somewhere, somewhen with Renton nearly two months ago. The battle between Ao and Truth is ultimately resolved when Truth essentially commits suicide. He is convinced the current world’s history isn’t correct and he shouldn’t exist, at least in his current form. Thus the Quartz Gun is fired for the second time, causing another vast, complicated explosion, and causing history to change once more.

What’s cool is that Ao isn’t the only one who notices. Two short scenes between Gazelle and Nakamura efficiently show us they noticed too, and even though Okinawa is part of Japan again Nakamura still isn’t happy with how small Japan remains. It’s this timeline where Renton chooses to travel in order to meet with Eureka in her Nirvash…only Ao’s in it, and Eureka is some kind of “ghost”, wandering time, without physical form and unable to stay anytime for long. Could she be Ao’s Neo-Nirvash’s archetype Naru said was missing? What “choice” led to Eureka becoming like this? Where does Renton fit into all this? We’ll find out…later tonight.


Rating: 9 (Superior)

Eureka Seven AO – 22 (Fin; ’till late autumn)

Ao, Elena and Maggie face off against Truth, but he’s capable of creating a trapar storm that disorients Ao, who crashes into a scub coral. He comes out in Iwato, brought there by Naru, who serves him rice and tries to convince him not to fight Truth, who like him, is merely a child of two races. However, his mind is made up, telling her neither of them have changed. Pied Piper, Harlequin, and the Secret allies take Truth on, but can’t make a dent in him. Ao and Naru arrive, and Ao rushes at Truth. Flash forward to a ruined New York City in the year 12021. An adult Renton Thurston witnesses a Seven Swell and flies into it with his Nirvash, hoping to find Eureka and “bring everything to an end.”

We’re not going to mince words like we always do, and just curse instead: that was a fucking awesome episode. It soared with big happenings, big battles, big explosions, big revelations and one hell of a cut to a finish that brought friggin’ Renton back as a hardened, obsessed man on a mission – apparently jumping from time to time and world to world seeking Eureka. He’s a pretty snappy dresser and owner of some strategically graying hair to boot! And unlike the rather pointless momentary cameos of Claus and Lavie in Exile no Fam, he looks primed to play a crucial role in the finale, which apparently isn’t coming until late autumn. That…caught us a little by surprise, though we should have known that was going to be the case, considering the two week hiatus it took earlier in the season. Gotta milk it for all it’s worth, right?

But seriously, enough can’t be said about how much awesomesauce they crammed into this episode – and how it broke down a lot of previous assumptions and replaced them with new ones. Turns out, Naru’s alien ears are fakes, she’s not romantically into Truth (much to Ao’s relief), and is deeply insulted when Ao tries to refer to her as a big sis figure. But Naru’s theory about coral carriers being blessed is getting trashed by Truth’s evil rays, which cause fatal breakouts in anyone affected. Basically, this guy is just a pure force of nature now, who doesn’t want to reason, which makes it seem like a coral/human hybrid like Ao can exist in human society but a coral/secret hybrid like Truth can’t. Unless he’s just a dick…


Rating: 10 (Masterpiece)

RABUJOI World Heritage List

Accel World – 24 (Fin)

Haru summons Gale Thruster and flies into the sky with Nomi, and is about to finish him when Lime Bell “heals” Nomi” with Citron Call. However, Chiyu reveals her power doesn’t heal, but turns back time. She’d been going along with Nomi waiting for her chance to revert Dusk Taker to a time before he had wings. Vice abandons him, and Haru defeats Nomi. Back in the real world, Haru and Taku’s names are cleared, and Nomi has no memories of Accel World. Haru returns Gale Thruster to Fuko, bringing Hime along so the two girls can reconcile.

Why did Nomi lose? Because he didn’t have any friends. If Haru were the friendless one, he’d have lost Accel World a long time ago. Luckily for him, despite his timid, pathetic personality and ridiculous physique, Haru has lots of friends to support him. He doesn’t coerce them with threats or blackmail; he’s just a nice guy. That’s ultimately his power: the power to get along. Nomi, meanwhile, pissed off Chiyu enough that she devised a devious long-term plan to put him in his place right at the moment he thought he was victorious.

Frankly, Haru & Co. did Nomi a favor; he was a horrible human being when he was a Burst Linker, though perhaps some of that was due to mistreatment by his brother’s hand. Again, we’re not shedding any tears for the guy, but his abrupt fate and change of personality was a mild shock, and he was certainly a symbol of what happened if Haru, Hime, or anyone else lost all their points (this also happened to Hime’s friend Megumi.) After beating Nomi, Haru basically gets lots of hugs and apologies, and life basically goes on. He also delivers also a loftily-worded, somewhat corny final speech. All in all not a bad ending.


Rating: 6 (Good)

Eureka Seven AO – 21

Fleur, now president of Pied Piper, meets with the Japanese Diet to formalize a relationship, while Ao patrols territorial waters, turning away the Allied forces with the help of Secrets. On an Allied airbase on Guam, Elena meets Maggie and learns that adults infected with coral can fly IFOs. While in the cockpit of Elena’s prototype, Maggie gets flashes of her other life in Goldilocks. Eureka appears before her and Elena, telling Elena she can’t send her back. Maggie investigates and learns Elena wasn’t born on another world. A scub burst occurs in Indonesia; Elena confronts Ao as he emerges with the Quartz. He talks her down and asks her to come back. Truth appears and starts wreaking havoc.

Fleur and Elena both “like” Ao, but in very different ways. Fleur’s is a fairly conventional bond formed by mutual struggles, parallels in their pasts, and an ongoing mutual crush. Elena’s friendship is complicated by her feelings towards Eureka – feelings of hate and resentment. Elena is particularly fun to watch this week, as she’s excited about her her surroundings and the promise of returning home soon, while overlaying anime traits over her situation. It’s cute, but as we learn later, it’s also a little sad…and dangerous. When Maggie learns the truth about Elena, Elena doesn’t want to hear it, because it’s boring. She had this grand, fantastical idea of where she came from and where her destiny is (no doubt a fantasy fueled by her otakuism). The world she’s living in doesn’t feel quiet right, and never has. So it makes sense that she wouldn’t be too receptive of the idea that it’s her world.

Ao mitigates the sting of this somewhat by giving her a good smack (to her IFO, not her face) and delivering a heartfelt declaration of affection for her and an inteniton for them (and Fleur) to stick together always! It’s a very anime-like presentation that appeals to Elena, spicing up the otherwise dull proceedings. But this isn’t just about Elena: Nakamura has resigned, yet still vows to return Japan to greatness; Haru is home (in a hilarious breakfast scene) and stirring up resentment for the coral’s use as a weapon; Maggie sees her other life for the first time; Fleur trades in her flight pajamas for a smart pantsuit; and then there’s the wild card, Truth: who just wants to SHOOT and DESTROY. A little of everything this week, but all nicely juggled; we were never lost.


Rating: 9 (Superior)

Hyouka – 22 (Fin)

Chitanda recruits Oreki to hold an umbrella above her in her shrine’s live doll procession where she will be the Empress. On the way Oreki notices a bridge that will shortly be closed for construction. While there, the subject of the bridge comes up, and when another bridge is suggested, it puts everyone off. Chitanda summons Oreki and he tells her what’s happened. She tells him to tell the same idea who called to block the original bridge – someone who’s a budding photographer who thought the procession would look better on the new route, which sported out-of-season cherry blossoms. As the sun sets, Chitanda explains that she wanted to show Oreki her place: the place she’ll always return to, and the place she’ll be responsible for. Oreki thinks of saying something romantic, but hesitates.

Will they? Won’t they? They won’t. That’s Hyouka in a nutshell. Good night!

Sorry, that was perhaps too concise…especially when describing a show with such subtlety and nuance. And few series we’ve seen have made us care so much about a couple, even while knowing they don’t have a chance in hell of getting anywhere on the romantic front. While it seems both of them wanted to say something to one another numerous times, the words never come out. We’re even teased at the end, with Oreki imagining he’ll take on the business side of her farming occupation, considering she wants to focus on the farming part. But when his chance comes – and he knows it’s his chance – he just doesn’t take it. We understand it would be a little cheesy for the series to wrap with such a…proposal, especially considering Oreki has never discussed anything with Chitanda about wanting to share his heart or his life with her.

But throughout the series she’s given off a soulmatey vibe. And after all, just because nothing happens here doesn’t mean it never will – it’s up in the air (and no, we don’t expect they’re saving the answer for an OVA or film.) Viewers are either optimistic about their chances or not. Instead, the series parts with one last little mystery, lots of Oreki hanging out in an unfamiliar place with strange customs and ways of speaking (though he comports himself well enough), a confirmation that things with Satoshi and Ibara are “normal”, and of course, the procession, an achingly beautiful sequence that’s literally a blur for Oreki. And in the end, while there were no “I love yous”, Chitanda did want to share something very special with Oreki: another side of her life. So, you know, it isn’t like she detests the guy.


Rating: 9 (Superior)

Accel World – 23

The night of the duel, Chiyu accompanies Taku to Haru’s place. She was told to tell them she’d betray Nomi so they’d take her to the no-limits stage, where she’d then heal Nomi. But she begs them to take her anyway; they agree and jump into the Moonlit stage, where Nomi’s waiting. When Haru rushes him, he’s ambushed by Nomi’s ally Black Vice, while Nomi fights Taku. Haru briefly falls into Zero Fill, but thoughts of Hime pull him out and free him from the vice. Just when Nomi is about to kill Taku, his arm is torn off by a long-range attack by none other than Hime, who has arrived to take on Black Vice while letting Haru finish things with Nomi.

In planning for their sudden death duel with Nomi Seiji, Haru should have known that he was planning to tip the scales in his favor with some form of treachery. The words “fair” and “honest” have no meaning for him, but still, ever the hothead, Haru just rushes in alone with no plan except “Take this!” Oh well…maybe now he’s finally learned. This week we find out what makes Nomi tick with some in-fight exposition. You see, Nomi treats people like tools or disposable garbage because that’s how his big brother treated him. Eventually, everything he gained in Brain Burst was stolen from him, and he devoted himself to taking it all back and banishing his bro from the game. He succeeded, but only by becoming the very person he detested most.

Learning this about Nomi is obviously an attempt to humanize him somewhat, but considering everything he’s done since enduring the pain his brother cost him has revolved around purging himself of all capacity for human mercy or thought for others, it’s a tough sell; we still hate the little bastard. He calls the gang’s friendships “illusions”, while ironically depending on an (admittedly cool-looking) ally to help him contain Haru. Things go badly for the good guys, and it takes Hime literally riding in on her black horse to even the odds, while not doing all the work. Now, barring a few more tricks by Nomi – or perhaps he’s fresh out – Haru is free to take him on mano-a-mano. The final episode should be suitibly replete with sparks, explosions, yelling, and tears. But really…do we have any doubt who’s coming out on top?


Rating: 6 (Good)

Eureka Seven AO – 20

After the fusion explosion, Gazelle fetches Fleur and Ao, who still has an instance of Georg on his phone that they can restart the Triton with. Ao takes the Nirvash into the bowels of HQ and finds the Quartz Gun, which triggers a massive burst of Quartz that he then neutralizes. Allied forces led by Tanaka destroy the HQ after civilians evacuate. Hanna and Harlequin’s survivors arrive and side with the Allied forces. Elena also defects to Tanaka, taking one of the goldilocks prototypes with her. Truth emerges from the HQ’s wreckage and attacks the allies. The Japanese government grants Pied Piper access to their bases and supplies in order to fulfill their end of a contract struck between them, the Secrets, and Blanc, with the goal of eliminating the last of the Quartz. A recording of Christophe details the contract and names Fleur the new president of Generation Bleu.

Sorry for the longish synopsis…a lot happened this week. Pieces are moving all over the board, and while Christophe has been removed from that board, Hanna, Harlequin (minus 200 casualties) and especially Truth are back on it. Truth in particular makes a frightening return having been fused to a fearsome-looking machine called IFO-0 AKA “Cannon” that looks to be a loose one and big trouble down the line. Even Maggie Kwan – not a Goldilocks member in this dimension – gets some time as an arrogant allied pilot. And the running theme of the week is “what is right and what is wrong”, only everyone’s too busy choosing one side for the time being to really mull over it for very long.

Ao, for one, isn’t willing to hand over the Quartz gun. Japan have chosen the Secrets as their saviors and vow to destroy who they deem the enemy: the Quartz within Scub Coral. With their HQ destroyed and enemies everywhere, Ivica can’t be picky about where he sets the Triton down, so Japan it is. Elena…well, she’s looking out for Elena, having gotten an answer from Ao regarding helping her (“no”, at least for now). And Fleur…poor Fleur lost her dad. She hated him for so long, but breaks down when she hears his voice and sees him on video, bequeathing his company to her. Ao is the shoulder she can cry on; these two are going through a lot together, aren’t they?


Rating: 8
(Great)

P.S. The Allied Forces’ Fortress-type IFOs resemble the flying robot guardians of Laputa in Castle in the Sky. Coincidence?


Car Cameo:
Nakamura is sulking in a Toyota Century towards the episode’s end.

Hyouka – 21

A year ago, Fukube rejects Mayaka’s Valentine’s Day chocolate; she vows to present him with homemade chocolate from scratch next year. That day approaches, and after help from Chitanda, she leaves the masterpiece in the club room for Fukube. Chitanda enters and is shocked to find it’s been stolen. Oreki agrees to help investigate, but they’re too late, as Mayaka shows up before it can be found. She goes home without a fuss. On their walk home, Oreki confirms Fukube himself stole the chocolate, because he wasn’t ready to give Mayaka an answer. Mayaka knew he stole it too, surprising Chitanda. That night, Fukube gives Mayaka a call.

Fukube Satoshi has always irritated us a bit. He’s just so…insufferable at times. But apparently even something as recent as his “defeat” at the hands of Oreki in the Juumoji case has humbled him. As Oreki notes while he’s playing an arcade game they used to play in middle school, Fukube used to be obsessed with winning, and pissed off when he didn’t. But then one day, he realized winning wouldn’t fulfill him. So he decided to become obsessed with not being obsessed with things. To be simplistic, he went Zen. Which is why sometimes earthly occurances – like a girl in love with him demanding his answer, or his scheme to sidestep the issue hurting another girl – no longer immediately occur to him.

He’s gone so inward, the effects of his actions on those around him, while not lost on him, are allowed to unfold without his intervention. But he knows he’s in a comfort bubble; one he’s afraid to leave. Even if he won’t admit it, his friendship and interactions with Mayaka led him to win her heart, whether he intended it or not. Now that he’s won something, he struggles to take the next step, because it could lead to pain; not now, but somewhere down the road. Oreki doesn’t offer him any sage advice (he has his own struggles with whatever he and Chitanda have), but we know part of him wants Satoshi to take a leap of faith, just like we know part of him wants to punch Oreki – hard – twice – for what he did to Mayaka and Chitanda. We’re not sure Fukube deserves Mayaka, but it sounds like he loves her too, so giving her a straight answer would go a long way towards redeeming himself.


Rating: 9 (Superior)

Car Cameos: On the bridge where they meet, several cars we’ve already seen in past episodes drive by Mayaka and Chitanda: a Mitsubishi i, Toyota Ractis, Honda ACTY Van, Toyota Sienta, Toyota Comfort, Suzuki Alto Lapin, Mitsubishi Colt, and Honda Civic.

P.S. Chitanda’s excuse for not giving Oreki chocolates – that “her family doesn’t give gifts to those she’s truly close to – that was an adorable exchange…par for the course where Chii-chan is concerned.

Accel World – 22

Haru teams up with Blood Leopard to lure Rust Jigsaw into a duel in Akiba. After they defeat him, Haru spots him in the real world. Taku tells Haru that Chiyu is fighting alongside Nomi in Accel World. Haru visits her, and she tells him she’s pairing with Nomi by conscious choice, not coersion. After poring over information, Haru determines Nomi is staying off the lists by using an obsolete, banned brain implant chip. He confronts Nomi with this info, and Nomi challenges him to an all-or-nothing duel.

Thanks to some sleuthing and an assist by “Pard” (whom he gets to ride!), Haru finally has some leverage against Nomi: knowledge of his illegal implant that could get him expelled, and in any case would be removed as soon as it’s detected. Game Over for Nomi, right? Well, apparently Nomi still considers the changing room video he fabricated to be equal in value. We disagree. Nomi is guilty of something that can be proven, and wanting to keep that secret gives him all the motive to frame Haru. Still, the narrative treats their leverage against each other as equal, so we’ll go along with it. Rather than settle things in the real world, they’re going to have a duel in Accel.

Haru’s implant chip epiphany happened when he realized a gesture Nomi was making was of closing a virtual window, despite his not wearing a neuro-linker at that time. This suggests, in this case, Haru has a keen eye for observation and is able to connect the dots and successfully corner Nomi. Unfortunately, Haru isn’t so observant when Haru takes her friggin’ shirt off and tells him she’s in a place where he can touch her if he wants to. Uhh, she wants you, brah. Gotta at least acknowledge it. Also interesting is that in Aceel World Chiyu has chosen not to tag along with either Haru or Taku; and she’s rapidly becoming a force by Nomi’s side. Also something Haru has to watch out for: overuse of the Incarnate system leads to the Armor of Catastrophe.


Rating: 6 (Good)

Eureka Seven AO – 19

Tanaka and the allied forces launch an attack on Gen Bleu HQ, which experiences a blackout when Big Blue World cuts them off. Truth talks telepathically with the Big Secret Head, but doesn’t like what he hears. Naru tells Truth that the masive scub bust on Okinawa ten years ago bore him into the world, a secret who lost his quartz and thus his memory, in human form. He flies into space and manipulates satellites into destroying Poseidon Base.

As allied forces descend on Gen Bleu HQ, including Maggie Kwan, Elena tells Ao and Fleur she’s from another world and wants Ao to take her home. Truth takes the form of Christophe Blanc, but Fleur sees through it and shoots him. Her real dad gives her and Ao a chance to escape, closes himself in the basement chamber, and detonates the quartz within in hopes of incapacitating Truth.

Which world is the right world? Who is the true enemy, the Scub Coral or the Secrets? Who is leading whom, Naru or Truth? These are just a few of the many questions brought up and explored as the shit hits the fan hard at Generation Bleu HQ. We had a feeling the company had a tough road to follow, but we didn’t expect its absolute obliteration. Their space station is destroyed before the commercial break, for crying out loud! This is a big, loud, dramatic powerhouse of an episode that doesn’t hold back for a minute. Things move incredibly fast, but the characters aren’t simply swept up as pawns in the plot, but shine though and have lots of great moments. We found ourselves fully engaged in every single plot thread in play this week, because every one dealt with a revelation.

Elena’s reaction to her download being cancelled (very meta) and her hilariously-creepy Evangelion-referring sight gag belie a very serious and fatigued girl who’s sick of living in this crazy, messed-up world. Fleur’s love and trust in her father prove decisive to her survival, and she has the strength to shoot whom she suspects to be Truth. Truth has never been better, less bwahaha-y and more vulnerable and confused. Christophe, seemingly out of options, goes out with a bang. He’s left the stage to Ao, Fleur, and Elena – youth – hoping they’ll determine the answers to all those questions, free of the regrets and prejudices adults like him must bear. We were royally blown away by the events of this episode, and are extremely excited to see what comes next.


Rating: 10 (Masterpiece)