Amagami SS 24

The best arc of the series had the best ending, as Junichi manages to draw out the animated, obstinate Tsukasa he knows and loves. Frankly, it would have been a huge cop-out if it was literally the case of her suffering memory or personality loss. It turns out, she had just buried that other side of her because she misreads Junichi’s vague words. In reality, he loves all the sides of her, and doesn’t want her “erasing” any of them. Once he makes her understand this, she can be at rest.

Mind you, this isn’t before she Kicks. Junichi’s. Ass, which is an awesome way for the “raw” Tsukasa to re-surface (Thus we’re briefly treated to Amagami MM!). She’s also finally able to reveal why she is the way she is. When she discovered Santa didn’t exist, she decided that she’d be Santa; that is, she’d be the source of everyone’s happiness. Somewhere down the road “everyone’s” became simply “her’s”, and she developed her merciless drive towards perfection. But that way would only breed loneliness. Luckily, Junichi volunteered to help her out, and you know the rest.

Having confessed their love and devotion to one another, we jump forward ten years, to the cutest of epilogues, if a bit saccharine. Junichi and Tsukasa are a married couple with a cute-as-a-button daughter, attending the founder’s festival once again. They’re positively oozing happiness; but not fake or forced happiness, but the real stuff. It was a nice touch, and establishes that they didn’t just share a high school fling, but a lifelong love.

Ayatsuji Tsukasa was so dynamic and fun to watch, she’s the one girl I wish had an extra episode or two to explore. But the final episode will instead feature Kamizaki Risa, a new girl. As of now I think I’d prefer either more Tsukasa, or for the ending to feature the girl who originally stood Junichi up. Then again, the series can’t exactly end with a cold rejection, now can it? Rating: 4

Advertisements

Shiki 20

I was a bit dubious of Shiki’s unique, out-there character design, just as I was with House of Five Leaves, but in both cases, simply watching them through has totally eliminated that stigma. And having so intricately built up a story with so many characters and motivations, the final payoff is made all the more awesome. Toshio and his followers (led by Ookawa) go on a staking spree, but only succeed in destroying a third of the Shiki; there are other hiding places.

Some Shiki have resorted to desperate measures: murdering Toshio’s mother as retaliation and to send a message to other humans; an enraged Seishirin picking off humans with his rifle; and even a glamored human being sent out as assassins. It’s all underhanded and not what Sunako wanted at all. She’s still in the basement with Seishin, growing more and more afraid of her expectant demise. You can’t help but sympathize with her: though she’s killed thousands in her centuries of life, it was always so she wouldn’t starve. She now questions whether it would have been better to starve; if her life itself is a sin that shouldn’t be.

Meanwhile, Tohru finally surrenders to Ritsuko’s refusal to feed off of her friend. She wishes to avoid detesting herself by not killing anyone, even at the cost of her life. She wishes she had never risen. Tohru’s pleas are no use; all he can do is make her comfortable in her waning hours. At some point, Sunako, Tohru, and all the others made the choice to live and live with the guilt, a choice Ritsuko isn’t capable of making. She is a nurse, after all. It is truly heart-wrenching to see her suffer, but breaking her will would be worse.

Which brings us to Toshio’s dilemma: their enemies aren’t just Shiki, but the humans they control through drinking their blood. Ookawa splits the village into black-and-white: good guys (them) versus bad guys (the Shiki and the “traitors”. Ookawa even stakes the human assassin, disturbing Toshio. He absolutely does not want humans murdering other humans, but what choice do they have when they’re coming to kill them? We’re in for a hell of a final two episodes. Rating: 4

Psychic Detective Yakumo 11

Last week Miyuki told the cops that Yakumo’s dad would kill Isshin. This week he all but does, as blood loss from a stabbing results in his brain death. We’re not sure who stabs him though, as spirits can’t handle physical objects. What we do learn is that at least part of him now possesses Miyuki, and through inducing a seizure, she has been released from prison. Something tells me she’ll slip out of the hospital without to much difficulty.

The real meat of this episode was how everyone dealt with Isshin’s plight. Yakumo knew he had a year to live anyway, and lets Haruka know. Both Haruka and Gotou’s roles are similar now: Haruka needs to be there for Yakumo, and Gotou needs to be there for Nao. He’s even sent home to spend time with his new ward, which means also spending actual time with his beautiful but sheltered wife. They have a very interesting relationship: they hardly see each other or talk, yet they love each other deeply. All but adopting Nao could be the best thing to ever happen to all involved.

In a final gesture of her resolve to stay by his side, Haruka presents Yakumo with a red contact for his non-red eye. She’ll have to, if he’s to stay out of the darkness his father wants him in. This rich episode even managed tie up the loose end of the patient-haunting girl at the hospital, whose heart Isshin soothed. I will certainly miss his cool-headed, zen presence, but his demise wasn’t in vain, as it brought people closer together. Rating: 4

Panty & Stocking 12

The first half is glorified recaps, but this week more than makes up for it with one of the best episodes of the series, which manages to meld a parody (Baz Lehrmann’s Romeo+Juliet, in this case) with the actual plot-line of Panty and Brief’s relationship. The fish tank scene was inspired, and Panty has never looked cuter. While she starts out her usual promiscuous self, we finally introduced to the powerless, vulnerable Panty who falls for someone (Stocking already had her love story, and in any case, was admitted back to heaven). It also features another excellent cut into conventional anime style; this has always been used as a scalpel, not a hammer, with great effect.

It’s amazing that all the various strings of the series are all tied up together here: the Demon Sister’s boss is the mayor, Corset, who has been trying all along to awaken the “Hellsmonkey”, likely the uber-ghost that will give him power over the world or something. (the one redeeming virtue of the recap is it established the purpose and motivations of the baddies). In any case, with Stocking gone and reverted to a virgin, Panty can’t have sex or summon her pistol anymore. I never knew she’s be in this much of a spot.

One thing I don’t understand: heaven is okay with one deadly sin – gluttony in Stocking’s case – but not okay with another? Also, both angels are pretty equally big “bitches”, so I don’t see why Panty is the one to remain fallen. No matter; this sets up something GAINAX isn’t known for doing too well – endings – but there’s certainly potential for there to be a great one. Great to see things getting serious, but not tackily so, and to finally see Panty’s human side. Rating: 4

Kuragehime 9

Just when Kuronosuke is about to properly distract Tsukini from her troubles with a jellyfish apparel powwow, Shoko shows her “proof positive” that she slept with Shu. Am I wrong, or is that just a picture of her in bed with him, and not necessarily having sex at all? Regardless, everyone assumes it’s true, except Shu’s little half-brother, who knows better. Shoko is a lying landshark who has Shu wrapped around her little finger.

Tsukini, meanwhile, can’t get the imagery out of her head, and tries to drown her sorrows in sweet sake. Having never drunk before, she exhibits her status as a hopeless lightweight and passes out instantly, and who should carry her to her bed but Kuronosuke, who cross-dressed less and less enthusiastically throughout the episode. Now that Tsukini believes Shu to be even more of an impossibility than ever, has Kuronosuke found his opening? Even if he has, does he want to take it, or is the shame of having the hots for her too much to bear? Rating: 3.5

Nurarihyon no Mago 24

In this, the penultimate episode, the Nura clan proves its superior strength and defeats much of Tamazuki’s night parade, but he expected this, and starts finishing off the rest of his comrades, all to add power to the Demon’s Mallet / Devil’s Hammer. He speaks of fear, but really all he has is this sword, and without it, he’d be pretty powerless. Unfortunately, he has it. Rikuo, and his gramps, meanwhile, are not just feared, but admired by their followers. You cannot lead the yokai if you draw power from their slaughter.

If this series had more time I’m sure it could spend an episode (or a Bleach-like 10-12 episodes) on each duel between Nura and Shikoku elites. But because at the end of the day none of them are all that interesting, I’m glad all of these battles are over now, and we can focus on Rikuo and Tamazuki. Yura springs into action again, but her summons are defeated so quickly its almost comical. Which is a shame, because I thought she’d grow somewhat as the series progressed into a serious threat against tough yokai, which didn’t happen.

Kana decides it’s a good idea to follow Yura, and its simply standing around when Inugami grabs. I’m a bit baffled by her stupidity, since at least Yura has some powers. But Inugami just as inexplicably tosses her aside and is killed by Tamazuki to be the piece that will complete his hammer. In all, I feel like the exposition could have been better handled than it was, but I’m still looking forward to actually finishing a series by Studio Deen for once. Rating: 3

Shinryaku! Ika Musume 11

This week’s trio of tentacled tales involved a creepy doll Ika believes is possessed, the American team researching whether Chizuru is an alien, and Ika’s first hiking trip. I’m with Ika on dolls being pretty damn scary in general. Mannequins too, for that matter.

It makes sense that the researchers would move on to Chizuru, as she’s demonstrated superhuman speed and strength on numerous occasions without explanation. We still don’t get one, which is fine; it’s more fun that it’s a mystery why she’s that way, and why she only opens her eyes on the rarest occasions. This series doesn’t dwell too deeply on anything, as it has other things to get to. I like that.

Finally, Ika is quite dubious of a hiking trip having any value whatsoever besides wasting her precious time and energy, but when she sees the view of the ocean from the summit, it all becomes clear, to the point that she chastises users of the cable car as cheaters. Since she’s a squid – a wild animal – any activity done “just for the heck of it” is bound to be hard to grasp initially. Rating: 3

The World God Only Knows 11

The Shiomiya Shiori arc comes to a close with characteristic grace and whimsy. Between the soaringly gorgeous soundtrack and the ethereal lighting of the library, and the sheer fantastical aura to everything, I was reminded more than a few times of a Miyazaki film, most strongly Mimi wo Sumaseba, or Whisper of the Heart. That was about a far less-shy writer, not a librarian, but the parallels are there, aesthetically and thematically.

As usual, Keima arrives in the ideal place at the ideal time for his conquest, and has the ideal thing to say to her right when her heart is open the most. He achieves victory with almost surprising speed; and forgets about Shiori with equal speed. He truly has this down to a science by the fourth girl, and just as he harbors no emotional baggage from the hearts he wins in dating sims, nor does he feel anything residual about real-life conquests. Most of all, it’s about a really interesting character.

Of course,Keima wouldn’t have been able to even get in the library without Elcie’s help, which is why for once I give her a break (and also because I really love fire trucks too, damnit. I also prefer picture books to novels…). She’s at her best when she supports Keima with practical or technical tasks he wouldn’t otherwise be able to complete. I shall miss Hanazawa Kana’s voice (although she’s in plenty other shows still); her character had the best arc of this series thus far.  It was short and sweet, but also deep and heartfelt as all hell. Rating: 4

Nurarihyon no Mago 23

The battle for Ukiyoe town begins, as Tamazuki’s and Rikuo’s armies meet in the middle of a shopping district. Rikuo’s friends are also aware of the disturbance this is causing, particularly Yura, who races to the source. Not everything goes swimmingly, however: Gozumaru and Mezumaru are unable to infiltrate the enemy band and steal the Demon Lord’s Gavel.

But if it weren’t for his escort Yozuzume and that sword, this battle would be over. Rikuo clearly has more “fear”, as he’s not only able to make himself invisible to all of Tamazuki’s lesser yokai, but to him as well. I have an inkling how this goes, having seen a lot of Bleach in the past: while a couple tricks have kept him around the same level as Rikuo, Tamazuki will start running out of these (Yuki-onna negated Yozuzume, for starters), and become more desperate and reckless.

I imagine the power of the gavel will consume him, or his father and the old Nurarihyon will intervene. Otherwise, Tamazuki didn’t have a good showing here, and, save a few more shifts in momentum, we’ll be looking at his demise sooner rather than later. Rating: 3

Arakawa Under the Bridge x 2 10

Everyone going to Venus has to go in order to meet the rocket’s weight limit. But the group splits in three and do it in that many different ways: Ric and the Mayor get a relaxing spa and shiatsu from Jacqueline; P-Ko, Stella and Nino go on a strawberry-only diet, and Sister puts the brothers, Last Samurai, and Hoshi through hellish boot camp that awakens their muscles.

The muscles theme takes over the weight-loss theme (which is fitting, as muscles weigh more than fat), as everyone but Tetsuro loses all their bulk quickly after not working out. He continues, however, leading to hubris and arrogance that gets him into a battle with Stella, who is no slouch even before she transforms into Mega-Stella. Everything about this absurd battle and its faux-drama was hilarious, and the fight animation wasn’t bad, either.

Rating: 3.5

Otome Youkai Zakuro 11

The stage is set for the final battle between Omodaka and Spirit Affairs, led by Agemaki, who wants to sake Zakuro for a change. Flashbacks and backstory are the order of the day, provided from two sources: Zakuro touching the hand of her dead(?) mother Tsukuhane, and Kushimatsu talking with Spirit Affairs.

It seems a little silly to be standing around listening to a long tale (even if it’s a good one) when every second matters…they wouldn’t have had to run if she’d simply told them how to get to the Village of Oracles. Similarly, Zakuro is in la-la flashback land and a sitting duck when Omodaka finds and re-captures her.

Her half-brother is keen to marry and produce a powerful heir, repeating the cruel cycle that led to his conception. Apparently his thirst for Zakuro’s power overrides whatever worries he may have about, ahem…inbreeding. I’m unsure  what three half-spirits and three humans will be able to accomplish against a village full of people with godlike powers, but I’ll certainly stick around to find out. Rating: 3

Soredemo Machi wa Mawatteiru 10

Soredemo gets all extraterrestrial and supernatural in this week’s outing. When suspiciously perfect holes end up in the wall, ground, and on a sign in an empty lot, Kon thinks it’s the end of her normal boring life and the start of something amazing. It turns out Hotori made the holes with an alien ray gun she found on the ground. Kon happens to have found the device that repairs what the gun destroys. Hotori’s guilt totally overshadowed any interest in investigating the phenomenon. While a little random, this story wasn’t at all unwelcome.

Part two is even stranger: it follows around an old man we’ve never seen before, who died but never got an escort to heaven (at least, that’s how he thinks the system is supposed to work). So for ten years, he’s roamed the town, attracting only the attention of certain animals…though his remarks oddly sync up with Hotori’s when she’s present. It’s revealed that this old man is the maid cafe owner’s dearly departed husband, who still prays to him daily. Both this and the alien parts were bookended by Sanada praying at a shrine to grow closer to Hotori. In all, this episode was a nice, lighthearted exploration of faith: belief in things regardless of proof. Rating: 3.5

Yosuga no Sora 11

Yosuga no Sora dives right into the deep end with aplomb as Haru and Sora give in to the miniature devils on their respective shoulders. Yes, no more imagining; this series has the audacity and cajones to actually go there. We shouldn’t be surprised, as that’s what this was building up to, yet here I sit, surprised nonetheless.

Once the deed is done, there’s no turning back. Haru completely forgets about Nao and his other friends and wants to do nothing but spend time with Sora. Sora, meanwhile, is a new person: far happier and energetic than we’ve ever seen her. Even her voice seems more alive. This suggests all of her lethargy thus far was actually love-sickness, and this is exactly what she wanted all along…which it is. But both siblings will pay a steep social cost for “going beyond ‘getting along'”. Sora doesn’t care, and Haru kinda still does.

It doesn’t take long for his classmates, including Nao to find out something is very amiss. Their suspicions are aided by Haru looking at books about the history of incest in the library (subtle!), the suddenly very frequent public displays of affection between him and Sora…and an unlocked front door inviting anyone to simply barge in and catch them in the act. And catch them they do! So where does this go from here? I don’t see them simply stopping after going so far, but will they be forced to descend into isolation? One more week to sort out the madness. Rating: 3.5