Hanasaku Iroha 19

Whenever this series has gone off on a high school drama tangent, it can sometimes feel like a distraction from the primary inn setting. I mean, there are a lot of stories left to tell there, why deviate by doing a school festival two-parter? Alas, this is what we got, and to be fair, it isn’t bad. It just isn’t quite up to par. I found myself uninterested in chunks of this episode, which is never good.

Ohana, Minko and Yuina’s class decide to run a “princess cafe.” The class chooses Minko to be in charge of the food and Ohana in charge of the waitressing. This enables both of them to ply their craft in a new and less serious setting. Minko gets quite into it, but quickly runs into logistical issues – personnel – issues. If this is a dry run for running her own restaurant – something that’s no doubt one of her dreams – it’s not off to a good start. But it’s sure to build character.

Ohana and Yuina have fewer issues coordinating the waitresses, but Ohana manages to have a very bizarre dream featuring Kou in drag. The episode ends with a lot of uncertainty about how everything will turn out – particularly for Minko. Nako, meanwhile, is the only one helping a girl set up an art gallery. Probably not the best time to turn off her politeness filter…

Rating: 3


Dantalian no Shoka 5

A most unconventional murder mystery occupies the full episode this week, as Huey and Dalian descend upon a house where a rabidly-obsessed fan has imprisoned a popular young author and his mistress with a phantom book that allows her to kill them both at will, only for one of them to resurrect. In this manner, she makes the author, one Lenny Lents, write the novels how she sees fit.

Dalian is also a fan, and not only intends to resolve the case for the sake of justice and goodwill, but also so the third part of a trilogy of books she’s invested in. The mad fan, Paula, is not blood-shy in the least, as she shoots her two victims in the head dozens of times in the course of this episode, and knows her way around a machete.

It’s really Paula’s own craziness that’s her undoing, as she’s libreral with her bullet use, drops the book, and through her overzealous killing, both Lenny and his lover have developed a tolerance to death. With the help of the book, the two turn on her and swallow her up in a eeiry lightshow. Dalian gets the third book from a safe deposit box, but isn’t pleased with how her favorite characters’ arcs go. I know how she feels; No. 6 is kinda going that way!

Rating: 3.5

Kami-sama no Memo-cho 5

There are two pairs of series this season we could classify as “Cutesy” or “Heartwarmy”: those are Ikoku Meiro no Croisée and Usagi Drop. There are also a pair of series we could classify as “Lolitective”: Dantalian no Shoka, and this. Despite these similarities, the two pairs are very different, and each have their own appeal. While GAINAX’s lolitective keeps its cast and world quite small and simple, Memo-cho is pretty much the opposite: huge cast with a solid core; huge city full of even more people, organizations, and goings-on.

We’ve touched on the similarities between Dalian and Alice. Both look down on their “squires” (Huey and Narumi, respectively), both speak and think above their weight level, both have their “cutesy” childish sides (both love sugar, Alice loves teddies), and both harbor an admiration and affection for their squires, despite their outward attitudes. This week, Narumi is away from her on business for Soiuchiro, Alice grows wary, and she betrays a little more of that affection, as well as her practical dependence on Narumi. Early in the episode she insists he isn’t her assistant; but she later contradicts that when her armor is down.

But Alice doesn’t just need her stuffed animals laundered and Dr. Peppers opened. Narumi’s presence, and the chores he does for her, help to keep Alice focused, and at the top of her game. Narumi’s duties to the fourth interrupt that somewhat, and she must adapt to his extendend absences. Regarding Narumi, he and Ayaka dive head-first into the world of girl J-rock band PR, darting around the city setting things up. Narumi is a hardworking, friendly and personable dude, so I can see why Soichirou recruited him to do it.

Naturally, there’s a seedy underbelly to this venture, as the band was once promoted by a rival gang, who may make things difficult for Narumi and Soichirou. We’ll find out if and how next week. Narumi also meets a new friend, a crazy-haired chap named Renji, whom he saves from beating up some thugs in a bar, then buys him some clothes. He’s back in Tokyo after three years, and apparently has ties to Hirasaka group. He’s also so good at fighting he’s sworn off using his fists. I’m sure he’ll be put to good use soon.

Rating: 3.5

Blood-C 5

This week’s Blood-C was bangin’, switchin’ up the formula a bit, whereby the battle comes first, then the lighter high school stuff. Then it does something else: it finally combines those worlds, much to Saya’s horror. We’ve arrived at the crossroads, people. The bloody crossroads.

The latest elder bairn she kills once again refers to the contract between them and humans. We don’t know exactly what the contract is, but it probably means looking the other way and letting them eat humans in exchange for relative peace, or something. Regardless, the doubt and confusion stirring in Saya starts spilling into her normal life. And it hurts her lil’ noggin, too.

A thunderstorm cancels her gym class, so they tell horror stories instead. After a half-hearted attempt by the class prez, the teacher steps in and, well, there’s no other way of saying it: she describes exactly what’s going on on the other side of Saya’s life. She’s even about to reveal the answer Saya wants so badly – what is the contract? – when Saya faints. Tokizane, who has exchanged knowing looks with her all along, catches her. I really hope this guy does someting soon. Something.

Back home at the temple, her classmate Nene, who wanted to hear the teacher’s story, comes to apologize, and boom, a massive elder bairn bursts out of the ground behind her. Shit just got real. It’s a cliffhanger, but damn, it’s a good one. After seeing a woman Saya saved earlier scream and recoil in horror when she held out her bloody hand to help her, I’m guessing some of Saya’s friends will be equally horrified when they see the bairn-slayer. Which is unfortunate, because she’s awesome.

Rating: 4

No. 6 5

Okay, so Nezumi’s an actor, but because he’s so pretty, he plays female roles, of course. Against his wishes, Shion goes to see him perform Shakespeare. Meanwhile, in No. 5, Safu is visiting a museum with her classmates when both she and Nezumi are hit by a strange “wind”, start to hear singing, and then pass out into a dream state.

Safu wakes up in hospital, while Nezumi is carried home by Shion, who then tells him about the parasite bee attacks. Nezumi teaches him how to dance for some reason, the lovebirds kill some time dancing, and then Shion touches Nezumi’s neck, surprising him, as he didn’t have time to dodge. Perhaps Shion’s new hair and tats lent him some powers?

The Safu and Nezumi connection threw me off a bit, especially when he said it had nothing to do with bees. What exactly is going on is still something that mostly escapes me, and aside from the shared dizzy spell and the suspicion next week Nezumi and Shion may be eskimo kissing, this episode felt too much like a holding pattern, even stalling.

Rating: 2.5

Usagi Drop 5

“Am I raising Rin or is she raising me?” So asks Daikichi, in the midst of Rin, who seems wise beyond her years. The answer of course, is both. This week he decides to adopt her, which would give Rin his surname, avoiding teasing at school. But Rin declines. She doesn’t want a new name or a new father, she wants “Daikichi.”

It was her mother Misaka’s idea. Daikichi finally meets up with her in a restaurant – in a scene where cell phone lag echo is used for a little extra suspense. She is indeed quite young; her early twenties tops. She’s beautiful like Rin, but a little spacy, but logical, and fiddles with her hair constantly as she talks. She’s also ultimately selfish; having given up Rin so she could further a manga-drawing career. Unlike Daikichi, who put the welfare of his six-year-old aunt’s above that of his career.

She also went out late at night when Rin was a baby. Daikichi believes this is the cause of Rin’s nightmares and bed-wetting. Learning this upsets Misaka, and rightly so. But even if she no longer considers herself a mother, Rin will have a family, and will be loved, no matter what her name is. That’s all that matters. Really heartwarming episode.

Rating: 4

Ikoku Meiro no Croisée 5

More ways of the French bemuse and confuse young Yune this week. She constantly wants to be of use, but in her new Parisian life, she’s neither required or expected to constantly work. She should fine time for leisure, to celebrate her freedom, to spend the money she’s made. But she’s having trouble understanding.

When I was in Japan I was amazed by how consistently kind, friendly, and helpful shopkeepers were, whether it was a 7 Eleven or a Toyota dealership. You receive a hearty welcome and the smiles hardly ever leave the faces of those working. Yune has this same mentality, but Claude warns her that in France, being too friendly or emotional to customers can scare them away.

When a young lad makes off with a candlestick (to later sell for food), she gives chase and gets lost in the gallery, neither of which boost her self-worth. When everyone either ignores her or gives her a strange look, she decides running and closing her eyes to be the best course of action, and…it is! She bumps into Claude. He repeats to her that her safety is more important than any item in the store. Yune took Claude’s advice too seriously. But she is learning.

Oscar makes a good point about a lot of the store’s wares (before going on a booty call): when electricity and such arrive, they’ll be rendered even more unnecessary. However, even things that are no longer useful are worth protecting. Do we still need butter churns? Or katanas? Not really; but those processes are a part of culture. Such arts must be preserved. Claude means to do that, and Yuna aims to help.

Rating: 3.5

Kamisama Dolls 5

Utao’s mysterious brother, Kirio, is kind of a jerk, but he does have a point: Utao started the fight. For her part, Utao was understandably freaked out by the sudden appearance of another kid who looked just like her. What follows is the first sustained kakashi-on-kakashi battle, and at the start, Kirio seemed to have had more practical experience, because Kukuri is schooled by Takemikazuchi, as Utao panics and flails about rather haphazardly at first.

I was a little annoyed that we get no explanation for why Kirio would be so evil and cruel right off the bat, but not as annoyed that the battle was so public; in the view of dozens of people, even caught on camera, and resulting in casualties. I feel the consequences of this exposure are too underplayed. The seki aren’t Men In Black; they can’t just flashy-thing the town and remain in the shadows. This was a big screw-up. Still, the battle itself is very exciting and nicely animated. I’m sure we’ll see more of this.

Kirio presses his attack on Utao, even though he had clearly won the day. This is the sign of youthful exuberance, but not sense. He was sent to capture Aki, not play with Utao, and when he kicks Utao when she’s down, she digs deep and comes back in a big way, tearing Kirio’s kakashi to bits. Both seki must now return to the village for kakashi repairs. In Kirio’s case, that means returning to a physically abusive bearded bastard. Now we know what Kirio’s a cruel jerk: people have been cruel jerks to him.

Rating: 3.5

Mawaru Penguindrum 5

Back from vacation, RABUJOI’s going to need to play some catch-up. Please forgive our dereliction!

Well, with Ringo visiting the Takakura’s so often, it was only a matter of time until she was exposed to the survival strategy. The ball starts rolling when, desperate for answers, Shoma asks Ringo point-blank to study her “fate diary.” He lets on that he knows more than he should about it, triggering a faceoff with Ringo that is interrupted by Himari, under the control of the headdress.

I love how Ringo essentially fills in for Kanba, shaking up what had become rather repetitive sequence by painting outside the lines and going after Himari. But she isn’t aware the hat is keeping her alive – not until she tears it off and throws it out into the street. There, it gets caught on the tailgate of a frieght truck, and boom: you have your splendidly over-the-top pursuit that proves this series can be every bit as adept at quick action as Blood-C, so far Summer’s runaway combat king.

There’s a lot more going on though. Kanba isn’t around for the survival strategy because he’s off making sure he and his siblings can keep living in their house. He gets a bundle of cash from an unseen stranger – perhaps the same guy who threw his ex-girlfriend down the steps. The anti-Kanba plotting, meanwhile proceeds apace, coming to a head with Asami Kuho about to get a facefull of red nerf ball.

Both the cash envelope and balls bear that omnipresent penguin insignia, seen in so many places, it’s hard to know what is or isn’t related more directly to the survival strategy than previously believed. Also, are the siblings’ parents dead, or just missing? I’m enjoying all the questions that have yet to be answered, and with 24 episodes, this series has plenty of time to so.

Rating: 4

Gone Relaxin’

No anime reviews this coming Friday, Saturday, and Sunday, as the staff of RABUJOI will be at a much-needed retreat in the Caribbean. Punta Cana, in the Dominican Republic, to be precise. Normal reviewing services will resume Monday evening, barring unexpected delays. We thank you for your patience.


Morita-san wa Mukuchi 5

Japanese high school girls don’t so much eat square meals as they just eat…whatever pops into their head at the moment. Sometimes it’s pan (bread of some kind), or ice cream. Or a parfait. The point is, on the whole, they like sweets. But they are also concerned with caloric intake. This segment just drives that point home. That, and Mayu seems to know what Morita-san is trying to say without actually having to hear the words.

Rating: 2

Tiger & Bunny 18

Yeah, I knew Tiger wasn’t going to quit being a hero this week and return home to take care of Kaede. But part of me still wished he did. But then it wouldn’t be Tiger & Bunny, now would it? What I didn’t expect was the tragic life story of Kriem, and how Jake Martinez saved her, as told on her deathbed.

Kaede’s powers are starting to run amok back home. It turns out she doesn’t just have Tiger’s Hundred Power. She can copy powers. Yegods, that’s an awesome power! If she can master it, what’s stopping her from moving to Sternbild to help fight crime, or at the very least, be closer to her father. I mean hell, Karina is still in high school, and she’s a hero. Dragon Kid’s just…a kid, amarite? I’m just looking for the most mutually beneficial solution here.

To be fair to Kotetsu, he never really has a good time to announce his retirement: the rest of the gang is so happy to see him back (especially the previously mentioned Karina). And before she dies, Kriem drops a bomb on Barnaby: Jake didn’t murder his parents. It’s proven when the hand tattoo in Bunny’s memory is missing from Jake’s hand in footage. This causes Barnaby to question his fitness to be a hero, at exactly the wrong time for Kotetsu. Nothing comes easy for ‘ol Tiger.

Rating: 3.5

Ao no Exorcist 16

The last fifteen weeks have basically been building up to this: Rin’s friends now know the truth: Rin is the son of satan. I honestly didn’t know how all the various characters would react to this news, but fortunately for him, most of them sided with Yukio and Shiemi, who want to save him. The new Paladin, Arthur August Angel, shows up to take Rin into custody and put Pheles on trial with the Grigori court for treason.

This episode keeps two distinct story points – Rin’s trial and his friends’ efforts to repair the sword that seals his blue flames – and it keeps them both interesting. During the trial, Mephisto Pheles goes to bat in Rin’s defense, and though we still aren’t sure we can trust him, it’s clear he’s the only one who can save Rin. He and his angry brother Amaimon, who shows up just in time for Pheles to suggest they sic Rin on him to prove he will be useful fighting against Satan & Co.

Yukio also does Rin a solid by telling everyone the whole story, and how Rin himself has only known about his lineage for a few months. Shiemi in particular is, predictably all for saving him no matter who is dad is, but it was good to see at least one dissenting voice…but to my surprise it was neither Izumo or Bon! In fact, Bon recognizes the sword as once belonging to his temple, and suggests a trip to Kyoto to get it fixed by the 11th Yoshikuni, a girl with purple hair and a really weird accent.

The mission to retrieve jewel steel for the repairs is interrupted by a battle with Mara demons who try to lead Yukio and Bon astray, but Renzo and Izumo are right there to snap them out of it. In all, this was one of the best Ao no Exorcists to date. It was action-packed, well-paced, never boring, and was a very good payoff to all the building up to date. But it isn’t over: Rin still has to wake up and defeat Amaimon, and his sword still needs to be fixed. But so far so good.

Rating: 4