Loving Yamada at Lv999 – 10 – So Cold It’s Hot

When Tsubaki first approached Yamada, it was because she suspected him of cheating in a game she watched him play online. He lets her watch him play, and she does—for hours. He didn’t cheat, he’s just that good. In the present, neither she nor Okamoto can get ahold of Yamada.

Okamoto tells her if she doesn’t make a move, Yamada will end up with some rando. Tsubaki’s mask falls and she tears up, and Okamoto rightfully feels bad for pressuring her, as she’s already quite aware of her situation.

Turns out Tsubaki wasn’t the younger girl with whom Yamada couldn’t promise to be together forever. Rather, she hears from Yamada why he doesn’t have a type, never had a crush, and is generally uncomfortable with women. It all comes down to that girl, who was mercilessly bullied for liking Yamada until she stopped coming to school.

Their teacher sent him to the girls to give her handouts, keeping a connection between the two. The girl kept liking him, and then asked him to make a promise he couldn’t make. He says he only did what he did because the teacher told him to, but often wonders what would have been the right thing to say instead of what he did say.

From the day Tsubaki learned that about Yamada to the present, she feared ever falling for a guy as kind and cruel as him, lest she get hurt someday. And that day seems to have arriving—or will do so soon.

As Okamoto and Tsubakai wander the streets and presumably head to their respective homes, Yamada spends the night at Akane’s, but not for romantic purposes. His role is purely to observe and protect. Akane is in a terribly bad way, to the point he wisely takes her to a late-night clinic where she gets an IV.

Akane is somewhat aware of these events, but her fever is so bad it all feels like a fuzzy dream, up to and including when she comes to and finds Yamada dozing beside her bed, her “getting over heartbreak” book loosely in his hands.

When she realizes all of the things Yamada did for her when she was well and truly much out of it, Akane bursts into tears of gratitude, feeling like “someone like her” wouldn’t normally deserve such kindness (which is of course untrue).

When the heartbreak book comes up, Akane tells him how it’s really gotten her out of her funk, he tells her he’s not the good guy she thinks he is, and she recognizes his expression. It’s the same one Takuma had when he broke up with her.

Akane tells Yamada she’s glad Takuma put an end to things that way rather than lie to her. It’s her hope that should he look back on the memory of her, it’s of her smiling, not crying and wailing, making him think “she was a great girl” and “I shouldn’t have let her go.”

Just as Yamada’s face reminded her of Takuma’s, Akane’s bright toothy grin reminded him of the girl he essentially broke up with without knowing it at the time. He even remembers something he forgot: the last time he saw her face—and the first time we see it—she’s smiling at him through tears, thanking him for being there for her.

As the night wears on and Tsubaki logs off the game with no one else around, Akane’s fever drops and she’s able to eat some yogurt. As she eats, she can’t help but notice how safe and secure Yamada’s presence makes her feel. But when she tries to reach out to him, she suddenly feels horrible.

It’s a leg cramp, and it’s agony. But as she shouts and thrashes, Yamada calmly takes hold of her foot and leg and stretches it out. Her other foot flies wildly around his head and face, sometimes hitting only air, and sometimes hitting face. But after a minute or so, the pain subsides.

Yamada thanks him for saving her yet again, and Yamada comments that she’s “so dramatic.” But when he looks over at her as she says her leg was killing her, she’s scarcely looked more beautiful. The two have an extended moment where something might happen, but it passes, and the night proceeds without incident.

The next morning Yamada heads off to school without sleep, something he assures Yamada he’s done before. She’s fine for him to go, but hopes he’ll take care and let her know if he feels sick. No doubt she’ll want to be the one to nurse him should he fall ill; such is her transactional way of showing affection and demonstrating her worth.

But more than ever before, Akane is acutely aware of her body being naturally drawn towards Yamada without her having to think. That’s the product of how safe and secure she feels around him. He’s about to leave when she grabs a corner of his jacket, only to tell him she’s fine and to go ahead and go. But when he’s gone, she can’t help but sigh, and her blushing isn’t just from her cold.

This episode was another triumph of shoujo romance shot composition and direction, full of beautiful cross-fades and dissolves reflecting the characters’ states of mind. Minase Inori and Uchiyama Kouki’s layered performances also add to the intimate atmosphere of an episode that takes place almost entirely in Akane’s bedroom.

Mobile Suit Gundam: The Witch from Mercury – 20 – Who’s Allowed to Live?

As Norea watches the carnage unfold on earth, she gets even more worked up and filled with an unquenching thirst for vengeance. Guel and Kenanji head to the school for evidence of Shaddiq’s treachery, but Shaddiq already knows what he’s up to, and he and Grassley House intercept them. Finally, these two are facing off in mobile suits, but it’s no longer a school duel, nor a game.

Martin reports his progress to Secelia, but she and Rouji are more concerned with why Aerial is on Earth wreaking havoc. Martin, of course, has no idea. Earth House watches helplessly as what’s left of GUND-Arm’s reputation goes up in literal smoke. Lilique tells the others to shut the news feeds off and leave it to the president.

The Earth Housers are left wondering if they should just be good and go back to attending class, as Suletta is doing. That said, she’s not paying much attention, as she’s understandably preoccupied with just what the heck is going on with Miorine. Petra offers Suletta her notes as further thanks for saving Lauda. When Suletta asks if Petra is in love with him, she bristles, but doesn’t deny it (obviously).

When Cathedra, Dominicus, and Guel in his Darilbalde are barred from reaching the school by Shaddiq and his fellow Grassleyans, it doesn’t take long for Guel to play the only hand he has and accuse Shaddiq without evidence. But Shaddiq doesn’t care what Guel hurls his way if he doesn’t have hard evidence. That evidence is about to be moved, as Henao is overseeing Sarius’ relocation while Shaddiq buys time.

However, Kenanji and Dominicus manage to slip through and land within the school environment. That’s when the door to the holding area is unlocked and Norea heads out like a revenge-fueld missile. Elan tries to stop her, first from leaving their quarters and then from entering the cockpit of her Gundam, but fails on both accounts.

Norea won’t be denied. But while she has her singleminded mission to take as much away from the wretched Spacians as they took away from her, Nika is also suddenly free, and her look of determination indicates she’ll be making a beeline for Earth House.

I knew Norea would be one of the series’ most volatile wild cards, and she goes absolutely feral on the totally undefended Asticassia. She blasts and blows up buildings, vehicles, and people without any rhyme or reason. She simply wants to let it all burn. In the process, she ends up blowing up her fellow Earthians hangar.

Petra leads a stunned Suletta through the increasingly distressing amounts of wreckage and carnage, and each of them carry an injured classmate on their backs when Norea fires on their location and they’re both obscured by smoke, dust, and debris. Considering Petra’s quite blatant death flags earlier about making Lauda take her out to lunch and dinner, I didn’t feel good about her chances.

Meanwhile, Lauda listens in as Guel and Shaddiq battle both with words and souped-up mobile suits, and then the inevitable happens: Shaddiq lets slip that it was Guel who killed their father. Lauda had been a loyal and trusty younger brother to this point but that’s probably over now.

There’s no more damning sign that Things Will Never Be the Same as watching a Front security mobile suit crush what looks like Miorine’s greenhouse. And while the camera doesn’t linger on any crushed tomatoes, it doesn’t have to use symbolism; students are being crushed and killed.

At first, Felsi’s campus-calibrated mobile suit is the only thing standing between Norea’s rampage and utter destruction of the school, but then Secelia, Rouji, and Martin arrive at Earth House (that’s right, Secelia is running in this episode) and offers Chuchu (the only pilot around) her prototype mobile suit.

The suit still needs to be calibrated for Chuchu, so who should show up right on time to do just that but a contrite Nika, ready to help. Apologies and forgiveness are put on hold—everyone has work to do. That said, Chuchu tells Nika to tell her everything “from A to Z”, otherwise she won’t know what she’s forgiving her for.

As Shaddiq and Guel continue to duel in space, Shaddiq condemns Guel for getting Miorine’s hands dirty, and he and his Grassley comrades tell him a boy who grew up with a silver spoon knows nothing of the struggles they’ve faced, and the choice they’ve made as a group of orphans to break the “unjust peace” that’s been forged by taking the power from the Spacians.

Henao needs just five minutes to get Sarius safely to the rendezvous point with the Assembly League…but she doesn’t get it. Guel defeats both Sabina and Shaddiq, telling them if all they do is take, they’ll never gain anything, which I thought was a great line. While Guel technically wins the battle against Shaddiq, it comes at the cost of his mobile suit…and very possibly Lauda’s loyalty as well.

Elan sorties in Sophie’s suit to try to stop Norea one more time…and he actually succeeds, tenderly taking her suit’s hand into his and promising that he’ll stay by her side come what may. If she’s scared of dying, of the things in her sketchbook, he’ll help her find a way to live, because they’re both allowed to live.

Unfortunately, Elan stopped Norea far too late. The damage she did had been done, the people she killed aren’t coming back, and under such circumstances, the security forces are shooting to kill. Just as she tells Elan to tell her his real name later, her suit is shot through the core and she is obliterated in the explosion.

Norea isn’t the only major loss this week. Petra doesn’t survive either. She died having saved Suletta when she was a deer in the headlights after the attack, and in the process of trying to save the student on her back. May both Norea and Petra find the peace she couldn’t find in life.

In the aftermath, there are rows of dozens of dead Asticassia students. Chuchu slams her fist on her cockpit display, bitterly wishing she could have done more. But both she and Felsi definitely saved an even greater number from being added to Norea’s butcher’s bill.

That night, as security drones hover over the ruined school, the members of Earth House and Nika are reunited with Suletta. But before Nika can say anything to her, Suletta interrupts. Her hands are covered in cuts and bruises as she scratches and heaves and moves the mass of stone and metal rubble before her.

She simply asks that everyone help her. There are still students trapped under this debris, and some of them may not be beyond help. It’s only a glimmer of hope in an episode called “The End of Hope”, but it’s an important one. Suletta’s meager request galvanizes Earth House not to worry about what they did or couldn’t do, but focus on what they can in the here and now.

More importantly, no one is telling Suletta to do what she’s doing, and she’s doing what she feels she needs to do. It’s another first for her, and even if it wasn’t on her wish list, both that and more firsts like it will be essential in the days and weeks to come.


Heavenly Delusion – 10 – Stone Cold

It was clear from the jump that this was a different kind of episode of Heavenly Delusion, but not due to its narrative content, which is almost its weakest aspect. Instead, it’s how that content was presented, which was with a dynamic, freewheeling style more reminiscent of Trigger anime.

That’s no coincidence, as Ikarashi Kai is the guest storyboarder, director, and key animator this week. And the episode looked fantastic. So fantastic, it almost overshadows the fact that Juuichi…wasn’t lying about the “walled city” where women held men captive as breeding pigs!

Juuichi drives Kiruko and Maru to the former school where there’s a huge hole in the wall. The place is abandoned, but when a sudden rush of icy air threatens to kill Kiruko and Maru, she just manages to fire off a round of the Kiru-Beam and save both their lives. There’s a Hiruko in there, and it uses ice to freeze its prey. Both the visuals and sound design excel at portraying the extreme cold.

Kiruko doesn’t take too much time warming up, instead choosing to bum-rush the monster and fire the beam at it before it freezes her to death. The plan seems to work, and the beam cleaves the Hiruko in half, but the half with the core gets away, and thus the threat lingers.

From there, Juuichi is reunited with two of his fellow “boars”—men who were awake and escaped the women when the man-eater arrived. They brought with them a baby boy—Juuichi’s son. His reunion is so touching even a tough nut like Kiruko wells up a little bit.

A hot bath and a soft sofa later, Kiruko and Maru are planning to head to the Takahara facility the next morning, but before morning arrives, the Hiruko returns. Kiruko grabs Juuichi’s son and runs as far away as she can, only to find the cold is following her. That’s when Maru realizes that the kid is the Hiruko: capable of creating deadly ice to defend himself.

In this week’s seemingly cursory check-in at Takahara, Tokio remains isolated as she carries her child to term, while her friends are suddenly introduced to a new batch of “fifth year” kids who are shot in such a way as to look sinister, even evil.

That intro is juxtaposed with Juuichi gruesomely murdering one of his fellow boars with a circular saw while his son plays with blocks (the block sounds also accompany the shots of the creepy new Takahara kids). I don’t 100% know why, but I guess he believed the man he killed sounded the alarm that he was escaping?

Either way, something’s not quite right with Juuichi, but at least he’s reunited with his son, who has special powers like one of the X-Men. Since he has no more need to travel, he gives Kiruko and Maru his van, which breaks down ten feet from where they started off. Hopefully they’ll get it running again so they can get to the fireworks factory Takahara Academy to uncover more mysteries.

Hell’s Paradise – 09 – Something’s Different This Time

Not content to sit around and think about how to proceed, Gabimaru leaves Sagiri, Senta, and Yuzuriha and heads through the mists to Horai on his own. When he reaches the gates, he’s met by one of the Tensen. He breaks its arm and neck, but it regenerates almost immediately. He burns it to a crisp with Ascetic Blaze, but its charred body still delivers a devastating blow.

Realizing he can’t fight this monster like he would a living thing, Gabimaru jumps into another gear and pulverizes it so quickly it cannot regenerate. Even then, its body sprouts flowers and it transforms into a giant plant monster that zaps him with electricity. He wakes up in his home with Yui, momentarily relieved he woke up from the nightmare that was the island, only to realize that this is the dream. Nevertheless, he’s glad he got to see and talk to Yui once more.

When the Tensen has him on the ropes, his body goes into instinctive self-preservation mode, enveloping his opponent in ninpo flames before collapsing into a heap. Before the monster can counter, Mei appears and puts up a shield around Gabimaru and herself. That morning, the others see both Gabimaru and Mei are missing and go looking for them. On the way, then encounter a “forest” of trees that were once humans—some of them Houko’s family.

The seven Tensen, including Zhu Jin, whom Gabimaru fought to a draw, assemble in their little gazebo in Horai. Their leader then distributes shots of the Elixir of Life that they all imbibe. Gabimaru wakes up beside a river with Mei, glad that the Tensen aren’t really gods, but demented monsters that can be killed. But first he’s going to have to deal with Tamiya Gantetsusai, who just happens to cross paths with him.

Gabi strolled right up to the front door of the final bosses, only to get his ass handed to him. But he still put up a decent fight, and makes the point that if he had two or three people helping him he might actually be able to score a victory. The thing is, neither the Yamada Asaemons nor his fellow prisoners have any reason to help him. None of them, that is, except for Sagiri, who earnestly hopes he’s okay as they search for him.

Rating: 4/5 Stars

Birdie Wing: Golf Girls’ Story – 22 – Wounded Beast

Eve uses her Rainbow Bullet Burst to salvage her Europe Women’s Open by going 5-under on the third day to claim second place at 6-under, but pays the price. Burst causes considerable strain to her body, something Ichina didn’t notice because Eve didn’t let her or anyone else see her pain.

Alan Harvey, who is a butler and a certified acupuncturist (love that) manages to get her in a position to play on the fourth and final day, but warns Ichina in no uncertain terms not to allow Eve to use Burst again. To do so would jeopardize Eve’s future as a pro.

Aoi, who is already a pro, is busy doing promotional work she hates, but not too busy to keep abreast of Eve’s progress. She, like Vipere and everyone else is concerned when Eve walks out on the second day covered in bandages. Leo tells her there’s no shame in forfeiting.

But Eve prefers her “candles” short, fat, and fast-burning (holy-moley that’s a lot of double entendres!) and is committed to finishing the tournament. When Ichina withholds her driver and warns her not to use the burst, but instead adopt a defensive stance for the round, Eve decides to trust her caddy. These two have come such a long way.

Aisha continues her consistently wild shelling of the course, showing no signs of tiring. The pro leader runs out of gas and falls to fifth place, and Aisha ties Eve with one hole to play. But Aisha doesn’t consider Eve an easy opponent. In fact, she smells dangerous to her—like a wounded beast.

When Aisha sets up a birdie that will trigger a playoff if Eve matches it, both she and Ichina know what must be done. It’s time for the Rainbow Bullet Burst, but that doesn’t make it any easier for a tearful Ichina to hand Eve her driver.

Even so, she heard Eve talk about not caring about words like “limits” or “impossible”, which she believes to be the excuses of cowards. Eve trusted Ichina, so now Ichina will trust in Eve. So she pushes the driver into her chest and tells her to prove that she can go beyond her limits.

Eve uses Burst to launch her ball nearly 290 yards—further than Aisha—and her driver cracks and shatters, apparently sacrificing itself to prevent her arms from breaking. Yes folks, the clubs are sentient. Why wouldn’t they be?! But the Burst isn’t even Eve’s final salvo.

With a fresh club, Eve whips out an even newer, even less tested shot—Over the Rainbow. The ball is shot straight up into the air, then majestically arcs across the green and straight into the cup. With an eagle on 18th, Eve defeats Aisha, wins the Europe Open, and becomes a pro.

But again, everything has a cost. And even though she held back for most of the final round, the final Burst and OTR ended up doing yet another number on her teenaged body. After the award ceremony, Ichina and Alan are helping Eve back to her cabin when she straight-up loses consciousness.

Our golf girl Eve has made a living killing people…in golf, but now she’s as close as ever to killing herself with golf—along with any chance of facing off against her beloved Aoi. And this time Alan’s needles might not be enough to help her.

The Ancient Magus’ Bride – S2 09 – Cause for Worry

After the camping trip, Chise stops by home so Mini-Elias can be re-merged with Elias and Silky can even out her fly new short hair. But back at the College, Lucy remains in the infirmary, unconscious for ten days. Chise is worried about her, leading Elias to ask what “being worried” means.

When Chise explains it, Elias admits he was worried about her on the trip, but she did what a mage should have done, and nothing he wouldn’t have done. Chise too is worried about the power that awoke under the lake, and a visit to the always sleepy Cartiphilus, who confirms the voice came from inside her and kept her from getting killed.

What she doesn’t tell him is that it is the voice of a dragon gone mad after cursing her, and there’s now no going back. Not only that, when she uses her blackened hand to place a cloth on Lucy’s head as she starts twisting fretfully in her sleep, she has a vision of a young Lucy at the edge of a mass of corpses lying in a sea of blood. Then Lucy suddenly comes to.

When she does, it’s shortly after Seth Noel arrives. Chise knows Seth, but didn’t know he was Lucy’s brother. Lucy loses it upon seeing him, telling him she doesn’t need a “loser like him” to worry about her, and telling him to buzz of before passing out again.

Seth commits to staying by Lucy’s side so Chise can take a break. While on the stairs she can smell the potpourri she gave Philomena, and sure enough, Philomena lifts her cloak of invisibility to talk to her. She tells Chise that she’s not used to talking to other people, but it’s okay when it’s just the two of them. Like Lucy, Mena is gradually growing from an acquaintance to a friend.

As for how Lucy ended up the way she did, the College president convenes a faculty meeting to report that a forbidden tome called The Testament of Carnamagos was found crumbled into dust in it’s storage unit. The book, which Elias admits he’s read (an extreme risk for a normal human), can take the life force and magic power of others.

The latter happened to Lucy, so it tracks that the crumbled book was a fake, and the real one was stolen and is being used for nefarious purposes.

Tory introduces Elias to the other teachers, who are excited to meet a mage and impressed by his transformation abilities. Among them is Simeon Paladilhe, who tells Elias (and us) the story of the Webster family, who used to make a living making and copying books with the help of silk-producing spiders they kept.

Eight years ago, the entire Webster family was killed except for Lucy. As for Seth, since he lacked any magical power he was cast out of the family before its demise. Shortly after parting ways with Elias and Tory, Simeon is attacked with the missing book.

By the time Lucy wakes up again, Seth has fallen asleep while sitting on the stool beside her bed. She sees him and the gift he brought and cannot fathom why he’s there, as he must hate her (he probably doesn’t).

When a colleague who is waiting for Seth gets out of the limo, he’s quickly impaled through the chest by a mysterious masked creature with doglike legs and claws wearing human clothes. The creature tosses the slain colleague off a bridge, and is then joined by a second creature. With Seth’s protection eliminated, Seth is their next target.

Rating: 4/5 Stars

Skip and Loafer – 09 – A Taste of Summer

Synching right up with the official start of Summer here in the States, Mitsumi’s summer break arrives, and she leaves Nao-chan’s place early to hop on a train to the airport, then a plane to Noto. The immersive, almost meditative sequence unfolds with minimal dialogue, ambient sounds, and familiar images, perfectly capturing the exciting yet slightly lonely feeling of being on a trip.

The summer details don’t stop there. Mitsumi’s lively family picks her up and takes her home, where grandma is out back making special red rice and warns Mitsumi to cover her legs lest the skeeters eat them up. Her fam prepared a sumptuous feast and they go to town, then nap it off on the cool tatami. I totally get why Mitsumi’s such a good person…look where she comes from!

Then there’s the impossibly sweet reunion of Mitsumi with her bestest friend Fumi-chan. She literally jumps onto her like a baby panda on its mama. Fumi reports that she’s officially seeing the guy she spoke of before; she wanted Mitsumi to know first. They get together with the rest of their middle school chums and launch some fireworks on the beach.

The next morning Mitsumi oversleeps due to a excess food hangover. Her mom, who took the day off work to have more time with her, gives her some soothing watermelon. Each time Mitsumi takes a bite, we get a new idyllic image of summertime in the countryside. Her reverie is interrupted by Fumi, who joins the Iwakura siblings on a trip to the beach.

Mitsumi would go on to visit the beach every day, such that by the time she’s back in Tokyo for the new semester, she’s got a serious tan. The first person she encounters is Sousuke, which she takes as a good sign. When Kanechika tries to give Sousuke a script “just to read”, he refuses.

Mika has brought cookies from Kyoto for everyone, including her newest friend Nao-chan, while Mitsumi has brought her hometown’s famous squid crackers. In monologue, Mitsumi notes how the summer break was a month of transformation. Some couples were made, some broke up. Some friends grew closer, while others drifted apart.

Mitsumi’s spirits are lifted after her student council session and a detailed presentation on the upcoming school festival, which the president correctly presumes is unlike anything Mitsumi has ever seen (at least outside of TV shows). She’s super excited about the festival, and when she spots Sousuke walking alone, she wants to share her excitement with him (as well as her squid crackers).

When she finally catches up, she hands him a cracker and talks at length and with great enthusiasm about all things festival. Sousuke politely listens and adds a monosyllabic comment here and there, and then Mitsumi takes her leave, saying she shouldn’t be acting like a giddy schoolgirl, but more like a “cool and composed adult” like Sousuke.

As she walks away, in Sousuke’s mind he says she’s wrong: he’s frozen in place because he “doesn’t deserve anything”. He recalls her running in her bare feet, and also a long-haired blonde woman I don’t believe we know. He calls Mitsumi “so dazzling…and so far away”, but just then she turns back around and returns to him, offering two more crackers as she sensed he seemed down.

Will Mitsumi be able to pull Sousuke out of his funk without knowing what’s really causing it? I hope so, but the fact their class is putting on a play—the last thing Sousuke wants to do—the odds are stacked against her. But I’m sure as hell pulling for her to succeed!

Insomniacs After School – 08 – Somebody Special

The next day at school, which is the last day of the semester, Isaki asks what Ganta thought of her radio show, and he admits he fell asleep in the middle of it. But wasn’t that kinda the point? Isaki is also nervous about her and Ganta’s viewing party getting approved, but when she and her friends arrive at the student council office, he and Ukegawa report that they are good to go.

I love the little slice-of-life scenes of Isaki and her friends just goofing off over weird-flavored drinks or comparing lunches or special talents. Anamizu is even approached by a strapping senpai she likes who wants to go to the viewing party.

I also liked how since this is the start of summer break, it’s hot out, and walking around out in the sun is as grueling as coming into a nicely air-conditioned building is refreshing. Kani continues to maintain a slightly antagonistic attitude towards Ganta, protesting when he shows up ninja-like.

When Ukegawa tells the girls that Ganta used to be quite the runner, but slowed down when he grew out of his shoes, he doesn’t shame Kani for laughing by saying, for instance, Ganta’s family couldn’t afford new shoes for him…or possibly didn’t care. We see Ganta’s family life is near non-existent. That said, my heart was lifted when Isaki placed the glowing star antennae on his head.

Even if his family situation isn’t the best, at least he has a solid group of people at school who care about him in their own ways. Which is why when the night of the viewing party arrives and a huge rainstorm blows in to ruin it, he’s so crestfallen. Not only that, Ganta blames himself for this literal act of God, and runs out into the rain to make sure no one shows up at the station.

Yui and Isaki run out into the rain to find him, and Isaki finds him first, yelling across the raging river, crossing the nearest bridge to approach him, and holding an umbrella over him. They may both already be soaked, but the gesture is symbolic: she wants him to come in from the rain, and to cease his self-hatred.

The two find shelter under the bus stop—the same bus stop where they hid from a cop on their first Nightly Fun session (I miss those!). When they can’t simply talk things out, Isaki starts recording another episode of her radio show.

She acknowledges that it sucks that their viewing party they worked so hard on got cancelled, but when she hid in this bus stop with Ganta, she heard his heart racing, and then her heart started to race, that’s when she realizes that he is someone special to her.

Ganta takes this for what it is, and wants desperately to say she’s special to him too, but they’re interrupted by a passing bus. They hide again, and end up very close together again. Isaki puts her hands on Ganta’s face and shapes his mouth into a smile. Then Yui shows up, and from her perspective, it looks like they’re kissing.

The three meet up with the others at the after-party, and Ganta bows and apologizes to everyone. But they tell him he has nothing to apologize for. This wasn’t his fault, and there will be other meteor showers they can organize viewing parties for.

All he needs to do is sit down and have a nice meal with everyone, if not in celebration of a successful event, to celebrate the hard work they all put into it, which brought them closer together. Yui then swipes a shrimp head from Ukegawa’s dish, and puts it together with one of hers, making both Isaki and Ganta blush and avert their eyes.

The question is, when will they summon the courage to express how special they are to each other will an actual kiss?

Mobile Suit Gundam: The Witch from Mercury – 19 – Cleaning the Stables

Miorine and Guel are headed to earth, unaware of just how dangerous a scorpion they have as an escort in Prospera, piloting Aerial. Miorine may be planning to bolster her presidential bonafides through direct talks with Earth, but Prospera has entirely different and far more selfish motives.

In one of the surprises of the whole show, Secelia has Martin give her a pedicure to put him in his place, but also offers him the advice he needed to hear: if he believes he sold out Nina to save Earth House, he needs to come clean to his house and seek forgiveness there.

Piel’s newest Elan is now with Shaddiq, telling him more people might support Miorine in the election if the Gundam they brought crushes the Earthians, but Shaddiq knows Miorine will do everything in her power to prevent that. Miorine isn’t fazed by the unarmed protestors, and alights from her limo to meet with Earth’s leaders face to face.

As Norea finally fills her sketchbook and breaks down from the grief of losing her sister and best friend Sophie and admits she’s afraid to die, Miorine receives the Earthians’ list of very legitimate grievances, including the Benerit group’s use of extralegal detentions, torture, and murder in their search for the Plant Quetta terrorists.

That said, Miorine brings GUND-Arm medical tech to the talks, and this intrigues one of Earth’s representatives to the point he agrees to a 10-day ceasefire until the election is over. If Miorine wins, then the real talks can begin. Seeing them shake hands after her hand was previously ignored feels like a big win for Mio. Turns out it’s the only win she’ll get, and an all too brief one.

Suletta, having hit rock bottom last week, finally begins her slow ascent. Emerging from her bedroom to eat, ChuChu drags her out to be with the rest of Earth House, who have prepared a sumptuous breakfast. It’s here where Suletta realizes she still has a family that cares about her.

Martin then arrives and comes clean as Secelia advised, and receives the forgiveness he wanted but didn’t think he’d get. Suletta knows Nika wasn’t trying to cause any harm but only protect her own family. As Lilique puts it, even if it wasn’t the best way, it was all she could do. Suletta lingers on that.

While Mio handles the talks, Guel went with Kenanji to speak to Sedo, the Dawn of Fold-affiliated kid who he knew from when Guel was their captive. Sedo wants to join Grassley House’s academy for war orphans like the “Prince”. Kenanji gets angered by this, because “Prince” is the name of one of Grassley’s finest graduates: Shaddiq.

It doesn’t take much to put two and two together and realize that Shaddiq, in concert with Fold, organized both the Plant Quetta and Open Campus attacks. Guel informs Mio, who tells him to return to Space and try to find evidence. She imagines Shaddiq is keeping his adoptive father Sarius at Grassley house.

But even Shaddiq’s plans seem to be in peril due to the whims of one Prospera Mercury, who uses Aerial’s abilities to take control of a piece of Earth artillery and have it fire at her, giving her the justification to retreat. But instead she heads to a secret Space Assembly League facility—Ochs Earth—and lays waste to the Gundams stored there.

While fighting breaks out, it’s covered on the news waves. Feng and her companion, who pose as smugglers but are really Space Assembly League agents, secure Bel and even learn about Quiet Zero from her, but while trying to move her to a secure location Prospera’s aide kills Feng and Bel just narrowly manages to escape with Feng’s partner.

The end result of Prospera going her own way is that conflict between Earth and Space flares back up and escalates. Blood is spilled mere moments after Mio got her ceasefire, leaving her entire trip a failure and making her the face of the entire fiasco.

But when Suletta watches the newsfeed and sees Aerial among the burning rubble and crying children of Quinharbor, she finally understands why Eri pushed her away, and told her to stop clinging to her and their mother. Eri kept Suletta out of this mess so she could rise to fight another day. There’s even another Gundam looking for a pilot that I’d say has Suletta’s name on it.

If last week Suletta hit rock bottom, this week Mio-Mio seems to be in the same spot. Both her designs on forging a peace with Earth and her presidential prospects are in tatters. She, like Eri, was right to try keep Suletta out of this, even if her methods were extreme. But now that just means that Suletta has the freedom to choose what to do with herself. I imagine she’ll forgive Mio and try to save her. Suletta’s rise towards agency and selfhood begins now.

Loving Yamada at Lv999 – 09 – Self-Serving Dream

When Akane vociferously urges Yamada to go to the local konbini while they’re playing FOS, he finds that she’s the clerk at said konbini. When she asks him to wait for her shift to end so they can go home together, he does. She made another meal for him as thanks for his help with her laptop.

While she’s glad he’s opened up a little more and they’ve gotten a little closer, she’s wary of seeing him in a romantic light, considering his troubles in that arena. That said, in practice he is quite sweet and kind, both in waiting for her shift to end, protecting her from a bicyclist, and expressing his hope she doesn’t get too bad a cold.

While Momo is giving her a manicure, Akane calls Yamada’s kindness a “terrifying trap”, but while Momo has heard a lot about Yamada from Akane, she hasn’t heard Akane say what she wants to do. Runa interrupts by announcing a “crisis in the guild”, which is really just Yamada inviting a new member—a girl! Even though she became friends with Akane, Runa is scared of a new member, but Akane calms her down with cocoa.

As for that new girl member, it’s Tsubaki, who seems to be harboring some lingering feelings for Yamada, or is at least curious about the older woman who came to the cultural festival. Could that be the only reason she’s joining the guild? We’ll have to see, but one thing’s for certain: Akane will welcome Tsubaki to the guild with open arms, not as the romantic rival Tsubaki believes herself to be.

It’s almost as if Tsubaki has taken comfort in the fact Yamada is terrible with girls, but Akane is quickly changing that, becoming someone he cares about and wants to protect. Akane is back in full-on disaster mode as she catches the mother of all colds after having to pull a night shift.

She can’t drink water, and hasn’t eaten in a day, but has nothing for rice porridge. She tries to take her bike as she’s worried about infecting other riders on the bus, but she’s too feverish and weak to get on the bike, or even get back to her apartment.

Fortunately for her, Yamada is close by. He stops a bike from falling on her, then picks her up from the ground and carries her to safety. This whole time, Akane is so feverish she believes this is all a dream—a selfish dream. But there’s nothing selfish about it. Yamada is doing what he wants to do. Helping her isn’t a burden—it’s a comfort.

Rating: 4/5 Stars

Heavenly Delusion – 09 – All Hands Meeting

Asura taught Kona how to use his powers, and used their powers to heal other children when they were hurt. Kona loved Asura, even if he didn’t really know what love was, because the adults didn’t teach him. One day, Asura told Kona they “knew what they had to do”, and ended up taking their life, something Kona was helpless to prevent.

Asura was the last member of Kona’s group, leaving him alone with his drawings. That is, until a young Tokio takes it upon herself to reach out to Kona, not to say anything in particular (she doesn’t have any more experience with love and loss than he) but just to be there for him. That first little interaction became what Asura told Kona would be a special other kind of love. And it’s that special love that has the facility’s director on the move.

This is an episode that jumps between “Heaven” and the “Hell” of the present-day world where Kiruko and Maru are still looking for the doctor, Robin, and “Heaven”. Maru’s tooth has grown back, which isn’t surprising considering his other abilities. They’re both surprised by a sudden earthquake – the first in ages – and head to a collapsed building where they find a scavenger who might have information.

What is Mimihime always looking at? Looks like it’s something no one else can see: the “ghost” of Asura, still hanging up there. She and Shiro head to class, where they learn from the robo-teacher that Tokio won’t be around “for a while”; we see her being carted off in street clothes by Dr. Aoshima, who the director later names assistant director, angering a colleague.

While office politics unfold in a human experimentation facility in the past, Kiruko and Maru are told some very colorful stories by the scavenger, who calls himself Juuichi. One that stands out is about a school surrounded by a wall; a matriarchal society within abducts men and use them as breeding pigs and slaves.

While the school itself resembles “Heaven”, the fact is this guy is pumping Kiruko and Maru for cash, having covered up a sign with his van that they’d have recognized: the bird logo on the gun, and the box at the stoner colony. They’ve arrived at Takahara Academy.

Well, not exactly…it’s one of eighteen branches and two facilities on a Takahara flier. Kiruko learns that it’s kind of an orphanage where children go willingly to rest and relax, but also learn. They imagine such a place would be tough, but then remembers their sister and friends and figures they would have probably adapted if they had the same family-like structure, found or otherwise.

Kiruko and Maru are headed to one of the two facilities, hoping to learn more. Meanwhile, at the all-hands emergency meeting at one of those facilities, which I’m assuming is in the past, the Director announces to the shock off all that Tokio is pregnant. This despite them not teaching the children of the nursery about anything related to sex or even gender.

My theory that Tokio is Maru’s mother remains intact for another week, assuming that time difference is roughly equal to Maru’s current age. That said, Tokio being pregnant is regarded by the boss as a “crisis.” Are they caring for these kids, or keeping them isolated because they know they’re potentially dangerous? Curiouser and curiouser…

Rating: 4/5 Stars

TONIKAWA: Over the Moon For You – S2 08 – Spousal Quality Time

When Tsukasa asks if Nasa loves her, he says of course he does, but later wonders if he said the right thing. Kaname tells him his wife was likely looking for more than his verbal assent. If a cat jumps in your lap, you pet it. If a plant needs water, you water it.

Realizing he should be expressing his love to Tsukasa more, Nasa also concedes that there’s not a super-elegant way to just suddenly start doing it, such as when he calls her cute as always the moment she wakes up.

Nasa decides to read shojo manga to get into the proper state of mind to provide casual compliments to Tsukasa. However, he finds them so entertaining he can’t stop reading. Meanwhile, Tsukasa enjoys messing with Nasa when he gets so focused on something.

When she asks him what brought on all the manga reading, he eventually comes clean (after a kiss) that he’s trying to learn how to casually convey how much he loves her. He says he loves her most in the universe, which has her happily humming while at work cleaning the baths.

Speaking of baths, Nasa is taking one when Kaname helps herself into the men’s side. She’s not trying to sneak a peak; rather she’s there to inform him that Tsukasa is alone on the women’s side and he can join her if he wishes—the bath is closed and they’re married, after all.

Neither Nasa nor Tsukasa are opposed to this idea, even if they’re both very bashful about it. But once the lights are out, they’re back together in the bath for the first time since their honeymoon. Only this time the water is a lot clearer.

It’s all good in the hood for Nasa, who believes married couples getting along is good, and crucial, to world peace. They’re saving the world by being lovable dorks, all right?! Things literally get steamier when the two move to the sauna.

There, Nasa learns that Tsukasa is total sauna fanatic, taking the bodily challenge of enduring the heat as long as possible very seriously. Having been to Russian sauna several times, I can attest to the need to allow at least three minutes for one’s body to get used to the temperatures.

Nasa endures more than he thought possible for his wife’s sake, and when they start to fool around a little and agree that it wouldn’t be the worst thing if her towel were to fall off, a bloodcurdling scream comes from the men’s bath, where Aya encountered Ginga, who had fallen asleep.

Even so, thanks to Kaname’s assistance and their own determination and love for one anoher, Tsukasa and Nasa continue to take meaningful steps towards being more and more physically comfortable with each other.

Birdie Wing: Golf Girls’ Story – 21 – The Worst Course

Following Aoi’s stunning victory that unlocks her path to the pros, her biological father Reiya finally confirms her suspicions. Rather than mad or hurt, Aoi is filled with happiness, and remains committed to enjoying golf. She and Ichina take leaves of absence from school in preparation to focus on the tour.

Meanwhile, it’s now Eve’s turn to struggle, as the Women’s Europe Open is being held at the absolute worst course for someone with a game as aggressive as hers. She keeps shooting herself in the foot with her bullets, going from trap to trap and bogey to bogey, all while Leo’s new student Aisha Khambatta Vrooms and Booms her way to a comfortable lead.

In keeping with Birdie Wing being as dumb as possible while still being both endearing and amazing, Aisha runs up to the tee before smashing it like a cannon. And as Leo points out, a bullet can’t beat a cannon shell.

Aoi is excited to see Eve in an open, but disappointed she’s so far back in the rankings. She also leaves President Junguuji in her father’s care, and even gives her her blessing. Could the Prez end up being Aoi’s stepmom? Maybe! Meanwhile, after the first day Eve decides that her current Rainbow Bullet isn’t enough.

She has to further hone it into her own rainbow bullet. After the second day she’s made up a little of the gap between her and Aisha, and then that night she finally nails it: a Rainbow Bullet Burst so powerful that Ichina is thrown back by the sheer rainbow-smashing force.

On the third day, Eve wastes no time breaking out her new swing, which Leo initially thinks is just a rehash of her father’s, but is then actually encouraged to see that it’s an evolution of what both he and her father taught her. Her drive goes over 300 yards, and she uses the standard Rainbow Bullet in a bunker to score an eagle.

At that point, Vipere takes her leave, because she’s not only confident that Eve has this in the bag, but that no one can stop her. Not Aisha, at least, who seems thrown off her game by the force of Eve’s drive. And if she can win on this, the most anti-Eve of courses, she can really clean up on less difficult ones.

Of course, the main goal here is to go head-to-head with Aoi in a pro tournament, and now they’re both a lot closer than they were last week. Better still, they’re not related by blood, so the romance angle is still on the table!

Rating: 4/5 Stars

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