AnoHana – 11 (Fin)(Retro Review)

Originally posted 24 Jun 2011 – That was a properly fitting and satisfying finale. It cemented its place as by far the best series of Spring 2011, along with perhaps the most consistent, moving and best-executed eleven-episode series we’ve ever seen. we were expecting a good ending after the quality of what had proceeded, but we could never have predicted just how much dramatic ass it would kick. Nothing in it felt the slightest bit contrived or out of place; it remained fiercely true to its characters, and above all, was a surprisingly happy ending, and the perfect place to close the book.

After Menma fails to pass to heaven, the busters regroup and it turns into an all out CryFest, with everyone pouring their guts out. Tsuruko gets worked up for the first time. Even Poppo loses his laid-back composure. And in this mega-catharsis, they all finally realize that none of them are alone in their inconsolable grief or guilt. They’re all in the same boat. They can all forgive each other, and themselves. They all love her. And I’m sorry, but Anaru’s little eyelash moment was the perfect way to re-lighten the mood.

After this, Jintan races home to collect Menma so they can finish things and say goodbye. But she’s fading fast; it turns out, her wish was inadvertently granted: the wish to make Jintan cry. She promised his mom she’d do it. More specifically, to make him break out of his shell and properly grieve, embrace the pain and the love that’s released, and to be able to move on and live his life. By the time he reaches the base, he can’t see her anymore, and is sent into a panic. “Oh no,” we thought; “Will this just end with him still ‘crazy’?”

Thankfully, we had no reason to worry. She says goodbye by hastily scrawling goodbyes to everyone, which sets off another CryFest. All that’s left is to finish the game of “hide and seek” – at the end of which everyone can see Menma – and get Jintan to cry once more, and then she disappears, content and with her wish fulfilled. Closure at last!

What follows is a phenomenal end-credits epilogue, in which Jintan goes back to school and shows signs of giving the long-suffering Anaru a chance; Poppo is working construction and studying for a diploma; and Yukiatsu and Tsuruko become an item (her tiny smirk is awesome. We honestly wouldn’t mind these two as the focus of a spin-off).  This series was an emotional roller coaster, and its makers knew the viewers wanted and deserved this ending and wrap-up. Menma’s ultimate gift was bringing these friends back together.

So what have we learned? Well, first of all, director Tatsuyuki Nagai and scriptwriter Mari Okada put on a romantic drama clinic, and we shall most definitely be looking out for their next works. Secondly, don’t collapse within your own grief. Everyone has it; let it out and make your true feelings known. Don’t let ghosts haunt you. Er…don’t go up to a hotel with a guy you just met. And, of course stay in school!


Rating: 10 (Masterpiece)

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Mawaru Penguindrum – 20 (Retro Review)

Originally posted 25 Nov 2011 – Flashbacks recount the story of how Shoma met Himari. While his father was giving motivational speeches to the members of the Penguin/Kiga Force, Shoma happened upon her. They take care of a kitten together, but it’s killed by the rules. Himari heads for the Child Broiler to be made invisible, but Shoma saves her. Back in the present, the Kiga force continues to plan, and Kanba is intimately involved.

That was a bona fide tear-jerker. This was one of Mawaru Penguindrum’s best episodes, a feat considering week after week this series has rocked harder than anything else out there. Last week it said Shoma and Himari were soulmates, which threw us off, and this week it just came out and flat-out proved it without a shadow of a doubt. Himari would be long gone if Shoma hadn’t chosen her. The thing is, Shoma, Kanba and Masako, whatever they are to each other, were the children of members of the Penguin Force. Shoma blames himself for Himari’s fate because he’s the one who brought her into the “family”, i.e. the cult of penguin-loving eco-terrorists whose “survival strategy” isn’t limited to buying only local and organic.

The group believes they live in a bleak, “frozen” world full of corruption, divided between the chosen and unchosen. The unchosen die, after becoming invisible, as Himari almost did. (We’re not sure what good bombing (or apples) will do about this). Speaking of invisible apples, Ringo has had a much smaller role as we hit the home stretch. This is such a weird show, making us believe for so long the Takakuras are biological siblings, then setting up two love triangles – Shoma/Himari/Ringo, and Kanba/Himari/Masako. One of many things we’re still pondering: is the world and everything we saw this week the way it is because Momoka was killed? Was she the only one who could’ve made it better?


Rating: 10 (Masterpiece)

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Shiki – 22 (Fin)(Retro Review)

Originally posted 30 Dec 2010 – The Shiki finale was unbelievably good – we’ll just get that out of the way. Naturally, just when victory is in sight for the villagers, a fire breaks out. And when a fire starts in a dry, windy forest, it doesn’t bode well for the mostly-wood village it surrounds. Toshio tried to fulfill his duty to protect the village the best he could; his rage and sorrow is palpable when he swings his chainsaw around wildly. Still, he saved many lives.

Of course, none of this would have been possible without Natsuno. He hypnotized Toshio before Chizuru, which is why her glamoring didn’t take. I imagine Natsuno basically told him to keep doing what he was doing, and he did. By the  end, there’s only two vampires left: Sunako, and the newly-risen Seishin, who has chosen to stay by her side.

Everyone else meets their end in various awesome ways. Megumi is found sneaking around, and her desperate pleas for mercy fall on deaf ears: by now the villagers have heard it all. They run her over with various farm equipment until she’s immobilized, then stake her. We kind of wish Megumi had made it to the big city, and we felt a bit bad that they’d just destory her so callously; but her surviving just wasn’t in the cards.

Natsuno throws himself and Tatsumi into a huge pit full of corpses by design, and blows them both up with dynamite. It’s clear Natsuno had no intention of living as a werewolf, so taking Tatsumi out with him two birds with one stone. He also made sure Kaori and her little brother were safe in a neighboring town before going back to take care of business.

We truly thought Sunako’s long time on the earth was at an end when Oosaki cornered her in a church, but Seishin rescued her at the last minute (whaddaya know, the big bearded dude’s mortal after all!). As out-of-town firetrucks and helicopters descend upon doomed Sotoba village, he sneaks out in a car with her in a suitcase. The final cut-to-black gave us goosebumps; something we expect from any great finale.

This was a truly excellent finish to what became the series  whose episodes we came to anticipate most each week, once it got going. The payoff was made so much more satisfying and impactful by the careful, intricate build-up in the first half. This was a series that slowly but surely changed our minds about it. We’ll miss its broodiness, casual gore, sexiness, and general strangeness, as well as its superb score.


Rating: 10 (Masterpiece)

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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)

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Mawaru Penguindrum – 15 (Retro Review)

Originally posted 22 Oct 2011 – In this Yuri-centric episode, a young Yuri lives with her horrible, abusive father, a famous, renowned sculptor. He only loves things that are beautiful, and thinks Yuri is ugly, so he “chisels” away at her, leaving a body part bandaged after each session. It is during this abuse that she meets Momoka Oginome, who tries to gain her trust by telling her about a her diary, which she can use to transfer fate to living things, changing their futures. Before Yuri’s father kills her, Momoka transfers Yuri’s fate; her father and the massive tower that represented him is gone, as are her injuries – but Momoka has to pay the price, and dies. Masako infiltrates the bathhouse and makes off with half of the diary, but Yuri still has the half she stole from Ringo.

This episode began with a fresh new opening sequence, so we knew that a big episode was in store, and it didn’t disappoint one bit, opening up an entirely new can of whoopass by answering a lot of questions hanging out there, among them, who was Momoka? We finally see and hear her, as she befriends Yuri. Momoka has god-like powers. Her diary can transfer fate as easily as transfering subway routes (we friggin’ love that analogy). We also know what killed her, and that was a selfless act that saved Yuri from The Worst Father In The World. So there’s a little bit of Jesus in her, too. And how about the fact that the Tokyo Tower used to be a massive stone skyscraper in the shape of Michelangelo’s David? Weird. Wild.

Was was so amazing about this week is just how much managed to be dished out. Not only do we learn a bunch about Momoka and Yuri, but Shoma realizes the error of sending off Ringo so forcably, and comes to save the day – although, true to fate, he doesn’t have to go far, as he just happens to be in the hotel room right next to the one where Yuri has Ringo tied up and ready to do awful things to. We also have a great surprise cameo by Masako, taking back half of the diary after an excellent little battle between the two feisty women. So now we know just how powerful the diary (penguin drum…) is. And if Ringo was successful in using it previously, than it’s clear she too had to pay some kind of price for every fate she changed.


Rating: 10 (Masterpiece)

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Natsuyuki Rendezvous – 11 (Fin)

After a long, tearful good-bye, a brief incident with garden shears, and a neck bite, Atsushi finally releases Hazuki’s body back to him. Hazuki wakes up as if from a long slumber, confirming his love for Rokka and asking her to marry him. Many years pass, to when Hazuki passes away at age 65, not long after Rokka. Their daughter Yuki vows to keep the shop, while their grandson inspects Atsushi’s old room, kept closed thoughout Yuki’s childhood. Atsushi chats with her son, Hazuki and Rokka’s grandson, and tells him to throw everything in there out.

We’re all for the occasional mysterious or ambiguous ending, but we after all we’d been through (like Hazuki), we wanted nothing less than a good old-fashioned happy ending, and by gum, we got one. And it was everything we could have hoped for. A few last memories of Rokka (when she got drunk, she’d reveal an envy of Atsushi’s talent). Atsushi’s method revolved around flowers as more than just things of fleeting, conventional beauty, but considered their entire life cycle from seed to death andr eturn to the soil. It’s a one-way process, which is probably what makes him realize he can’t stay in the living world and must leave Hazuki’s body, however much seeing Rokka makes him want to stay.

There’s a tense moment when it seems Rokka believes taking her own life and joining him is the solution, he drops the gardening shears. As Hazuki says – powerless at the time to stop what he thinks is happening – that’s not what they’re for. Hazuki’s long, dreamlike daze through Storybook Land caused him to grow and change. He gave up his body in a drunken stupor, convinced Rokka would never love him as much as she loved her late husband. He didn’t know he was inadvertantly giving both Atsuhi and Rokka a gift – the chance to talk one last time and to say good-bye.

We especially liked the simple, quiet but exquisite epilogue, starting with Atsushi floating above the city (no longer trapped in the house), but it’s not long before we’re told both Rokka and Hazuki have passed away – and not too long after each other. Their grown daughter Yuki (a nice combo of Rokka’s hair and Hazuki’s eyes) looks over some photos with her elderly Aunt Miho, and her young son explores the apartment where Rokka and Hazuki lived the rest of their lives. The shop and its surroundings look the same, but the old flowers wilted and died, having planted seeds that bloom in their place.


Rating: 10 (Masterpiece)

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Puella Magi Madoka Magica – 10 (Retro Review)

Originally posted 10 Mar 2011 – Did all that just flipping happen? After fleshing everyone else out previously, all that remained was Homura’s story. We got it, and it was fucking epic. Nothing in this episode would have made any sense without knowing everything that preceeded it, and at the same time, this added so much more dimension to an already excellent series by throwing time and causality into the equation.

Homura was once an innoncent, ditzy human, who transferred to Madoka’s school and befriended her. But in this timeline, Madoka and Mimi were already Maho Shojo. When the Walpurgis night comes, Madoka sacrifices herself to save Homura. Not yet a Maho Shojo herself, Homura contracts with Kyuubey with the wish that she be given the ability to change time – as in reset the timeline to the point she first met Madoka – and protect her instead of the other way around.

Not only is the initial role reversal of Madoka and Homura outstanding – Madoka is, in most timelines, a full-fledged, bow-wielding maho shojo – but the fact that things keep going so wrong – Madoka keeps dying and Homura keeps resetting – really drives home how tortured Homura is by the time we meet her in episode one. Hell, things go so awry, there’s even a scene where Madoka has to kill Mami by her own hand!

So Homura was never so much an aloof bitch. She’d just been downtrodden by so many lives and so many undesirable outcomes, and won’t stop trying to protect Madoka, out of her powerful friendship for her, no matter how many attempts she has to make.

This episode cuts back and forth through time a ton, yet stays expertly and confidently held together without a hint of repetition. We love Groundhog Day-type situations like this, but in this case the causality loop is neither involuntary or unwanted; it’s Homura’s will. The entire series we’ve seen thus far is only one of an untold number of timelines that have already run their course. And yet, Madoka seems almost fated to be seduced by Kyuubey – one way or another – fight Walpurgis, and become a witch so powerful she destroys the world.

The episode ends just as the series begins, only this time we hear what Homura is screaming in Madoka’s “dream”: “Don’t contract.” And to Madoka’s credit, she still hasn’t, as of episode nine. Will this finally be the time Homura is able to defeat Walpurgis on her own, without Madoka contracting? We’ll see. Fantastic stuff.


Rating: 10 (Masterpiece)

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Puella Magi Madoka Magica – 08 (Retro Review)

Originally posted 26 Feb 2011 – The episode wherein Sayaka loses her hope, her mind, and what’s left of her humanity, and meets her downfall, apparently transforming into a witch. This was a stark, cruel, unforgiving end for Sayaka, who never recovered from Kyuubey’s scathing words that her soul was in the gem she bore and no longer in her body where it should be. That gem continued to degrade, and Sayaka gave her first grief seed to Sakura and rejected it from Homura.

In case we weren’t already well aware, Kyuubey is the main antagonist here, at least so far. He seems absolutely hell-bent on making Madoka a maho shojo, and she actually asks him to do so! But before he can oblige, Homura kills him just in time. Of course, he comes right back, the bastard; one can’t expect an entity that can cause miracles to happen to be defeated so easy.

If Sayaka is indeed gone, Madoka’s choices have multiplied, and none of them are easy: she can contract with Kyuubey, and trust that he speaks the truth that she’d be such an unparalleled magician as to be able to perform any miracle she likes. He could well be lying, but then again, it’s telling that someone so unwilling to become a maho shojo would happen to be the one with the most potential.

Now that she has not one but two friends to try to save from oblivion, the urge to contract is as tempting as ever. But this is like the apple the serpent offers Eve: it may taste good for a time, but it will cause her to be cast out of the world she knew forever and into a life of hardship.

A contract with Kyuubey could also be compared to deal with a Faustian devil: whatever wish Madoka will have, there will be a heavy cost – just as there was for Sayaka, Sakura, and Homura – that could not only leave Madoka wishing she’d never contracted to begin with, but wishing she’d never been born. This series has become our run-away favorite of the Winter 2011 season – even though the main character is still just a ordinary, whiny girl!


Rating: 10 (Masterpiece)

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Suzumiya Haruhi no Shoushitsu (Retro Review)

Originally posted 19 Dec 2010 – We’ve been fans of Haruhi Suzumiya from the first episode of the original series back in 2006, and have remained fans ever since. She’s certainly a polarizing character most will either find charming or unbelievably annoying. The same goes with the Suzumiya franchise. It’s spawned dozens of imitations since it first aired. We even sat through the infamous “Endless Eight” arc, in which the producers had the audacity to recreate the very same tortured feeling of repetition that Kyon felt. Call us masochists, but we relished every excruciating, suspense-building episode (well, mostly).

One of the things we love about the series is the infinite possibilities that come from Haruhi’s apparently limitless power. A simple visual metaphor in the original series OP says it all: the camera zooms into Haruhi’s eye and the entire universe unfolds within it. That’s the potential of this series: anything can happen to Kyon, an otherwise ordinary student with no powers in an otherwise normal school in an otherwise normal city. This epic, sprawling, two-and-three-quarter-hour film met that potential…and surpassed it in ways we couldn’t have predicted.

Let’s get the obvious out of the way: the production values rule. This film was a masterpiece of light and color. It breathed life into its characters and settings by employing peerless care and attention to detail. Whatever this film cost, it was frankly worth every penny. From the soaring orchestral arrangements of familiar musical motifs, to portrayal of such mundane actions as applying double-stick tape or walking home at night and having headlamps cast upon you, this film simply looked and sounded badass. On some levels this film even surpassees Ghibli in rendering its utterly beautiful yet believable world.

As for the story, in the best tradition of the franchise, it weaves a tangled, complex tale, as Kyon travels across time and space, having somehow fallen out of his own. As the title suggests, Haruhi is nowhere to be found…at first. But the twists and turns the plot takes as Kyon desperately searches for someone who understands him, and the epic quest to set things right in the world – and indeed, discover what constitutes ‘right’ for Kyon, make for a satisfyingly addictive cinematic experience.

The film essentially boiled down to a choice Kyon – not Haruhi – has to make; a choice made possible by Yuki Nagano, who after living with humans so long, has reached the point where systemic “errors” cause “anomalous behavior”. Read: she’s developing emotions for her SOS Brigade-mates, slowly but surely, and decided to act upon Kyon’s outward attitude towards the world he lives in. He seems weary of all the supernatural experiences, the danger, and the hassle of dealing with Haruhi.

So Yuki remakes the world; a stable world where both she and Haruhi are powerless, and there are neither time travelers nor espers to be found. It’s a world she thought Kyon would prefer, and a world where Yuki herself would be a normal girl with feelings for him. Naturally, upon finding himself suddenly in this world, he wigs out…at first. This is where the choice comes in: will he admit he actually likes being with Haruhi and enduring her schemes, or live a quiet, safe life devoid of anything fantastical in the new, normal world Yuki made for him?

At times, this seems like a choice for Kyon between Haruhi and the ‘new’ Yuki. After much hand-wringing, he chooses the original world, not because it was the logical choice, but it was what he really wanted. Thus, he rejects the new, normal human Yuki with whom he could have had a normal romantic relationship. Even so, his later pledge to original Yuki – that he’d fight just as fiercely to get her back if anything ever happened to her – showed that his affections aren’t limited to Haruhi – or Asahina – but to Yuki too.

Well, that’s enough rambling! This is a long and engrossing film, but we almost can’t wait to see it again soon (We have. It still rocks.) We’ll simply close by saying this wasn’t simply an excellent Haruhi Suzumiya film, or anime film; it was an excellent film, full stop, and an instant favorite of ours. If Kyoto Animation wants to make another Haruhi anime series in the near future, we certainly won’t stop them.


Rating: 10 (Masterpiece)

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Mimi wo Sumaseba

During summer vacation, lazy bookworm Tsukishima Shizuku observes an cat riding on the train. Intrigued, she decides to follow him. The chase leads her to Amasawa Seiji, a boy who dreams of becoming a violin maker, and The Baron, a cat figurine who, along with Seiji, inspires her to explore her own creative pursuit: a fantasy novel. Shizuku and Seiji fall for one another just as he’s headed off to Italy for two months, and Shizuku contends with the loneliness by burying herself in her novel, affecting her marks and leading to a family meeting. When her trials are over and she delivers the draft of her novel to Seiji’s grandpa, The Baron’s owner, it evokes in him memories of his own lost love. Seiji returns, and he and an elated Shizuki take his bike to the highest point in town to watch the sunrise together.

We’ve wanted to review this film for a while now. Directed by the late Kondou Yoshifumi (who died before his time) with storyboards by Miyazaki, It’s a classic and perhaps our favorite Ghibli film (our top 3 tend to fluctuate), one that focuses on the real-life struggles of young people and limits the fantasy elements to their imaginations. We take an instant liking to Shizuku, remembering the endless possibilities of summer often boiling down to goofing off (or in her case, reading books indoors) until it’s suddenly gone. It’s full of brilliant moments like the transition from the dark clouds encroaching on a summer afternoon to the first day of school when it’s pouring, enhanced by Nomi Yuuji’s stirring, soaring orchestral score (gives us goosebumps every time). Meeting Seiji requires some degree of coincidence – call it fate – but their budding romance is straightforward and expertly handled. There are times, perhaps, when a kiss is called for, but the lack of overt gestures of affection doesn’t detract from the romance here. It’s understated, mature, and feels very real.

The film takes place in beautifully-rendered, intricately-detailed, sprawling West Tokyo in 1994, which is a character in and of itself. The hum and pulse of the city, with its engines and horns and sirens, people weaving around trains and bikes and cars, it’s all so vital and alive. Shizuku’s various moods as she walks and runs through the twisting streets are all perfectly accompanied by Nomi’s score, and there’s great contrast between Shizuku’s crowded, cave-like apartment (God, we love that apartment) and the gorgeous vistas of the dramatically-perched antique store (the vistas from the deck are superb!). We also enjoyed the side characters, from the very cat-like cat Moon to Shizuku’s pushy big sister and progressive parents, who let her do what she wants as long as she takes responsibility if she fails in her creative pursuit.

We could frankly muse about how much ass this film kicks all day. It transports us back to nineties West Tokyo and drops us right in the middle of the life of a girl tentatively striking out on her own road and, while on it, meets someone she can share the journey with. Whenever we watch it, it always lifts our spirits. It even inspired us to write our own novel, while being mindful not to expect instant perfection, but starting with roughly-hewed ore from which gems can be polished through hard work and patience.


Rating: 10 (Masterpiece)

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Car Cameos: In a word, tons. There are cars, trucks, buses, and bikes zooming every which way, and Shizuku has some close calls while crossing the street or walking alongside it with Seiji. Recognizable models we spotted include a BMW 5-Series (E34); Honda Legend; Hino S’elega bus; an old Mitsubishi Delica; an original Mini Cooper; a Mitsubishi Fuso Canter truck; a Toyota Corolla (E80) multiple Toyota Comfort and Nissan Cedric Y31 taxis; a civilian Toyota Crown (S130); and a  Volkswagen Golf III. We’re not sure what kind of kei van Seiji’s gramps putters around in…or the makes/models of the myriad motorbikes buzzing around.

Sakamichi no Apollon – 07

The day of the school cultural festival draws near, and Kaoru still won’t speak to Sentaro. Kaoru and Ritsuko are elected to the festival committee by their class, who have begun to noticce their mutual affection for one another. Sentaro makes a move on Yurika, but they’re interrupted by a bedraggled Jun, who Sentaro punches. Kaoru wastes an opportunity to clear the air with Sentaro, and the two drift far apart. When the festival arrives, the rock concert is cut short by electrical problems. On a whim, Kaoru decides to occupy the crowd by playing jazz on the piano. Sentaro joins him on the drums, and their jamming draws the whole school to the gym, spellbound. When they’re done their impromptu set, they run down the slope.

Whew…now that was a goddamn powerhouse of an episode. Just as jazz was the catalyst for Kaoru and Sentaro’s friendship, it’s also the salve that mends it when it’s asunder. The episode is a roller coaster of bleak emotional valleys balanced by dizzyingly estatic peaks. Beginning with a breif recap of Kaoru telling Sentaro off, potentially (though unlikely) for good, and ends with the most jaw-droppingly epic jam session in the most unlikely venue. The entire school witnesses their catharsis, and are so captivated they almost forget to applaud (Yurika gets it going). The scenes of students running into classrooms beckoning their peers to come to the gym adds to the energy. This week the school learned a lot more about Sentaro and Kaoru.

They jam for just over three and a half minutes, but times seems to drift away altogether during that period. We’re dared to not tap our feet or drum our hands on the coffee table to the music, and we can’t resist. The medley harks back to all the pieces they’ve played thus far – and one Kaoru played just for Ritsuko – but all of them have a new energy, which Ri’ko puts very nicely: “Like two princes arguing good-naturedly as they come back home.” It is an argument: between two momentarily estranged friends; between piano and drums; but once they’re both on the same wavelength and jamming away with such energy and purpose, not even a drunken racist Yankee sailor would deign to interrupt. Ri’ko’s dad mourns the loss of Coltrane at the episode’s start: it’s no time for silent halls or friends…and rock ‘n’ roll just ain’t gonna cut it.

10_masterpiece
Rating: 10 (Masterpiece)

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Nausicaä of the Valley of the Wind – Retro Review

What’s one of my favorite films – animated or not – in existence? Why, the twenty-six year old Pre-Ghibli Miyazaki masterpiece known as Nausicaä of the Valley of the Wind, natch. I’ve seen it at least a dozen times, but I never tire of it. Why? I could waste a lot of words and end up with nothing but paragraphs of inane babbling which I’ll spare you. Lots of reasons.

It’s a spectacularly gorgeous movie. Just about every still frame could be framed and put on the wall of a gallery as far as I’m concerned. The music sends up all the hairs in the back of my neck, it’s so good. The characters are rich and varied, and the cast is full of powerful women. I honestly don’t even mind the Disney sub, though it can be distracting hearing Captain Picard and Admiral Adama doing voice work.

Anyway, as I said I could go on ad nauseum, but do yourself a favor and watch this film. If you have anything bad to say about it, just keep it to yourself, because I don’t want to hear it, ok? That may sound immature, but understand this film and I were born in the same year. If, as a newborn, I was able to go see this film, I would have. And there’s nothing less mature than an infant. Rating: 10

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