Un-Go – 04

Kazamori is revealed as an AI, and Shinjurou and Inga sneak him out of the Sasa house to get more answers. Inga’s power won’t work on a program, so they have to earn its trust. He eventually leads him to his creator, Komamori, who has beeen alive all along. He faked his death in order to escape the oppression of the government, which had publically deemed GAI robots immoral and illegal for their use as fighters and sex slaves, but secretly wanted a monopoly on them for military use. They finally got a spy into the Sasa household, and he was burned by Kazamori. After Komamori surrenders, he destroys the doll Kazamori was in, but not before his program was transferred to a new female robot body.

We’re really glad this story lasted two episodes; even though the first part felt like a complete mystery, the second part dove even further into it, revealing even more twists and turns and surprising tidbits. Never mind also presenting with possibly the first case ever of a fridge being cuffed and taken in for questioning, which was gut-busting. Also, because the suspect in question wasn’t human, Inga can’t work her magic. But due to the GAI’s personality, the answers come anyway, and they come fast and furious. And so now we know who the yellow-eyed girl in the opening and ending is – Kazamori. We suspect she’ll show up again, much like Rinroku, Rie, Koyama and the like.

In addition to totally solving the case, this episode also opened up an entirely new can-o-worms in this postwar world: the now-outlawed GAI industry. Komamori felt it was better for society to take out its baser urges for sex and violence with GAIs, rather than war, which is why he disappeared himself. The fact that such a groundbreaking industry not only took place, it was all shut down before the events of Un-Go even started, really adds depth and richness to this world where everyone is “just living and falling”…and bureaucratic turf wars still run rampant.


Rating: 4

Guilty Crown – 04

Shu is arrested and interviewed by Major Segai, who shows him why Yahiro betrayed him: his brother is at GHQ’s Isolation Ward, being treated for the Apocalypse virus. He wasn’t an addict; he was a dealer, to make money to pay the hospital bills. Segai tries to convince Shu to betray Gai when he and Undertaker storm the facility to rescue a dangerous criminal named Kenji Kido. Gai arrives disguised as his lawyer, and the operation begins shortly thereafter. With Inori infiltrating the facility on her own to rescue Shu, he decides to go along with Gai’s plan, drawing out Kido’s void, immobilizing the enemies and cushioning Inori’s fall. He uses her sword to mop up as Segai watches. Shu finally agrees to join Gai and Undertaker.

Order. All societies worth their salt have it. Japan has it in spades, as does America. But that order comes at a cost. In Guilty Crown, that cost is perhaps higher than in the real world, but it’s no less necessary. And those groups that have a problem with how that order is achieved and maintained – they’ll always be terrorists in the eyes of the order-keepers. We noticed how Major Segai didn’t call it “peace”, just “order”. Peace isn’t all that possible when bombs are going off and the government slaughters innocent people who refuse inoculation. Blood must be spilt for this society to survive, according to those in power. Blood is also inevitble if anyone is to oppose them. The no-omelettes-without-broken-eggs analogy.

This was a phenomenal episode in many ways; perhaps GC’s best. it showed a waffling Shu finally make a choice (though he holds on to Segai’s transmitter, just in case), and it also showed a GHQ facility getting totally wasted by an extremely coordinated, multi-vector attack by Undertaker. We like how mechas are only one facet of the operation and of this series in general; not the end-all-be-all of the show. Only Ayase is regularly even in one. Everyone has their role to play. Nobody’s all that deep yet, but we have a long way to go yet. We will say that Segai got some more dimension this week, and he genuinely feels his cause is righteous. We were also impressed with the lighting this week, and the soundtrack rocked, too.


Rating: 3.5 

Mirai Nikki – 04

Yukiteru’s level of anxiety continues to rise as he contemplates Yuno’s potential to kill him at any time. Meanwhile, Kurusu brings the happy couple with him to check out a cult called Sacred Eye, where he believes Uryuu is being held. The Eye, called Tsubaki, is also the Sixth, and in possession of a “clairvoyance diary” that tells the future similar to Yuki’s. She’ll let them have Uryuu if they help her avoid a Dead End, but everything goes pear-shaped when the psycho Twelfth hynotises the cult into hacking each other to bits with axes, then reanimating the corpses. Axe in hand, Yuno gives Yuki an ultimatum: Tsubaki and death, or her and life.

This episode hikes up the horror factor while revealing two more diary holders, so now we know more than half of them. We also still don’t know exactly what Yuno’s goal is, because with the power she has, if she wanted to kill Yukiteru, she certainly could have. Could it be she’s too conflicted between love (or rather fixation) and the desire to become a god? Whatever the case, this week she’s jealous, and Yuki’s life depends on whether he chooses Tsubaki or Yuki.

Since the episode ended with that cliffhanger, it’s not unrealistic to expect some kind of third way defusing the situation next week. After all, we have the Fourth, Ninth, and Twelfth in play; between those three, We’re confident Both Yuki and Tsubaki could yet emerge with their heads firmly attached to their bodies. We really wish Yuki would take Yuno’s reigns and start manipulating her rather than cowering from her presence, but he’s just not that kind of character. He’s a wuss to the core. But Yuki, seriously: Next time, don’t call a nutcase a nutcase to her face.


Rating: 3.5

Ben-To – 04

You’s cousin Ayame Shaga, AKA The Beauty by the Lake, infiiltrates his school with a uniform he borrowed for her from Hana. Unlike the stoic Sen, Shaga is inappropriately playful, fondling Hana at every opportunity before being arrested by Ume and made to share a bath with her. The primary reason for Shaga showing up on the Ice Witch’s turf is to challenge her at the supermarket. Shaga holds her own for a time, but the Witch’s skill and composure proves too much for her. Sen gives You leave to console Shaga. Meanwhile, an organization in the shadows is planning things for the wolves. You defeated one of their scouts, but all they know about him thus far is that he’s an outsider.

At last, we’re introduced to the Beauty by the Lake, the lovely Shaga, voiced by Emiri Katou (Mayori from Ghostory; Blair from Soul Eater).  She gets a unique, Shaga-centric opening with a 16-bit/karaoke visual theme that fits well with her role as You’s cousin and frequent gaming partner in their youth. It isn’t the introduction we were expecting (we weren’t aware they were relatives), but in hindsight, it wasn’t a bad one. Right off the bat, Shaga is not above using her half-Italian knockout looks to tease You, who for his part stands his ground. Her behavior is nothing to to him, even if she has filled out in recent years. We won’t mince words; there’s loads of fanservice throughout the episode, but all of it was pretty funny and didn’t distract from the story.

For all her good looks, confidence, and predatory behavior towards You and Hana, Shaga is soon put in her place in two areas: the bedroom by Ume (in a scene that really shows how weird and kinky Ume can be) and on the battlefield, by Sen. Both defeats were good character-building moves for Shaga, with wiffs of karma following her handling of You and Hana. The combat continues to impress, punctuated this week by clever use of chopsticks by Shaga. She has skills and heart, but Sen is more graceful and makes dispatching her look easy. This episode also touched on some shadowy organization with “Plans.” We don’t like the sound of this so far. We’ve enjoyed the lack of a centralized authority and infrastructure in the bento fight club. Hopefully, Ben-To will prove us wrong and do something interesting with this. Thus far, we have no reason to doubt them.


Rating: 4

Boku wa Tomodachi ga Sukunai – 04

When she returns to what was her “naptime room”, ten-year-old nun Maria is manipulated by Yozora into signing off as the official moderator of the Neighbor Club. Kodaka is weary of a potential stalker, who turns out to be first-year named Yukimura, who looks like a girl from any angle, but is actually a guy. With Yozora’s approval, he joins the club and serves as Kodaka’s underling, and Kodaka is charged with making him more manly. When Kodaka hears an explosion in the “science room”, he runs in and carries an unconscious girl to the infirmary. When she recovers, this girl, Rika, thanks him profusely and joins the club as well, revealing her extremely dirty mind as she “seeks his DNA”

Had this episode been all about Maria’s introduction, or Yukimura’s, or Rika’s, it might have worn a little thin by the end. But by introducing all three in one episode in a steady progression, the comedy stays fresh and interesting. Now the whole cast from the sneak peek in episode 00 has been unveiled. Back then we unavoidably formed opinions on these three characters. Assuming Kobato was a classmate, when she’s actually Kadoka’s sister. Assuming Yukimura’s a girl, when he’s actually a very girly man in drag. This episode rewrote those characters in our heads, and they’re better for it. Having met and gotten to know the three mains of Kodaka, Yozora and Sena,, these three are the side dishes to the ‘Neighbor Club bento’, adding spice and variety.

While Maria’s youth and naivete and Yukimura’s submissiveness make for somewhat passive characters occupying the background, I like Rika the most so far. Yes, her filty mind and lewd commentary is a little overdone, but one has to admire her stubborn honesty and forwardness in contrast to the pussy-footing of Yozora and Sena vis-a-vis Kodaka. She’s on screen for only a few minutes and is already able to do what they never could – outwardly express their feelings. Her ‘mecha-as-ecchi’ bit was also pretty spot-on. Meanwhile, as most of the school still fears him and takes every word he says out of context, Kodaka may be correct that the club is actually making his reputation even more infamous. But he cannot deny that the club has netted him new friends he lacked previously, which is the point of the club. Sure, they’re all weird, but a club full of ordinary kids would be painfully boring.


Rating: 3.5

Persona 4: The Animation – 04

Chie and the guys’ search for Yukiko leads them to her other self. She is torn between two psyches: the girl like the bird she rescued and lovingly cared for, heir to an inn that is also her cage, waiting for a prince to come and rescue her, and the side that wants to break out of that cage and fly away, like her bird eventually had the courage to do. When Yukiko rejects her other self, she only makes matters worse, but as keep the shadows at bay, Chie confesses the jealousy she felt for her that kept her from seeing her problems. That everyone has a dark side, but one can only acknowledge it and move forward, which Yukiko does, gaining a persona in the process.

And so, the last member of the quartet graduates to persona-hood. The group may have gained strength after each received a persona, but the foes within got stronger too. After all, these are themselves they’re battling. It does no good to cover your ears and yell “la-La-LA-i’m-not-listening”; that’s a surefire way of letting the other self take over, and no one wants that, because frankly, they’re all bitches. But all they’re ever capable of telling is half-truths, as they’re only half of a whole themselves. Harmonious union is required if one wants themselves a persona. And not die.

This episode really taught us a lot about Yukiko (the second inn-heir this season) and her inner struggle. We like what we learned, too. We feel like we’d previously seen her through her “prince” Chie’s rose-tinted, somewhat envious lenses, because she’s more socially anxious than we’d thought, being more inclined to save an adorable baby bird than prattle on about irrelevant crap like most of her peers. Living seemingly only for the inn and family started to weigh upon her, and that birdy was always there as a kind of mirror to her predicament (btw, we’re also glad the birdy didn’t die, but just flew away ^_^).


Rating: 3.5

Tamayura ~hitotose~ – 04

Potte, Kaoru, Norie and Kou pay a visit to the island where Pottes grandfather lives, and stay at an in owned by Maon’s family. Watching her work hard at the inn and put her customers before herself, they all come to the conclusion her parents are grooming her for inhereting the inn. When they confront them about it, Maon assures them her work at the inn is just as important to her as her musical dreams. It’s also revealed that she has a tendency to change her dreams with great frequency.

This series is like a cool, breezy day by the seaside. It’s so happy and fluffy, and yet so sincere, we can’t help but be charmed. Norie can try our patience when it comes to her energy level and rivalry with Komachi, but this week she gets serious and speaks up when it looks like her friend’s parents are pushing a very timid and reserved Maon into a future of servitude. It turns out to not be that big of a deal; as Maon is wishy-washy. As for the parents, they’re just ecstatic she has actual friends.

Ever the photorecorder, no one is safe from the crosshairs of Potte’s Rollei. She has a wealth of material, as she’s surrounded herself with warm, loving people. The gorgeous quaint island village setting is like a tall glass of fuzzy sunshine. Also notable, Potte’s grief is all but gone from this episode. She sees her father in her grandfather’s face, but doesn’t fret. She watches Maon with her father and isn’t envious or wistful, but joyful.


Rating: 3.5

Chihayafuru – 04

Now in high school, Chihaya continues to play and improve at the Karuta club, and makes Taichi promise he’ll help her start one at school if she wins the upcoming tournament and becomes Class A. She makes the final, and has to go toe-to-toe with Yasuda, a very efficient and aggressive player. After exchanging her Chihaya card multiple times, she is ultimately victorious. Her performance may be enough to reignite Taichi’s passion for the game, but Chihaya is dejected when she calls Wataya to celebrate and he tells her he’s quit playing, and not to call again.

Now we’re back in the present, where nobody cares about the promise they made but Chihaya. She’s sacrificed a high school social life by playing Karuta whenever she can, and even running track to keep herself in shape. Her “play/eat chocolate/sleep” with eyes open is as eccentric as it is cute. We like how she screams when swiping away a card like a tennis player; it keeps her pumped-up while adding her own little flourish to the game. We were pumped up to for the entirety of the final match, this series does a very good job keeping the tension up.

Of course, not everything is puppies and rainbows. Wataya, it seems, would rather have nothing to do with her and Taichi. That leaves us with lots of questions about what happened in the time between now and the day he left for Fukui, sad to be torn from his new friends, but determined to become a master. Now he’s given up? Something tells us Chihaya isn’t going to leave it there…and his apparent hiatus from the game, perhaps she and Taichi have a better chance at beating him then they’d assumed.


Rating: 4

Phi Brain: Kami no Puzzle – 04

Kaito grudgingly agrees to check out another sage puzzle. He’s assigned a partner, Anna Gram AKA Da Vinci, an art and puzzle genius. They arrive at the mansion of a recently deceased famous landscape painter. The widow is cold and bitter, and wants to sell the place, but the puzzle must be solved first. The butler turns out to be a Giver from the POG who constructed it. Kaito and Anna are trapped and must solve the puzzle before they’re gassed to death. By rearranging the paintings on the wall according to how their frames match, then using Anna’s extensive knowledge of art history, they get a five-letter roman numeral, which is the code to the safe. The treasure inside is a gallery or portraits of the painter’s wife. The code was the number of the paris apartment where she fell for him.

We’re going to come right out and say we liked this episode. Da Vinci had a pretty good introduction and she and Kaito worked well together. This was also the first episode with an A and a B story: Kaito and Anna solving the puzzle in A, while Nonoha deals with her jealousy, then tries to infiltrate the mansion with the help of a very smitten and willing Gammon, who has an awesome purple bike. I like how her uneasiness about Kaito teaming up with Anna made her a better softball player, but also her realization that she’d rather be by Kaito’s side helping him solve puzzles than let some artsy strumpet take her place.

About Da Vinci…the show kinda pulled a fast one on us and revealed at the very end that she’s actually a he. Which is kinda random and silly and pointless, in our opinion Now there’s no female representation among the named puzzle masters (yet), though her being a guy at least eliminates a potentially annoying triangle involving her and Nonoha. Finally, we have the first POG giver who turns out not to be an evil asshole; as the butler was merely fulfilling the wishes of his dead charge. We’ll also admit we realized MDCLV was roman numerals long before Kaito did, though we’ll give him a pass since we’re unsure how commonly they’re used in Japan.


Rating: 3.5

Working’!! – 04

While returning from the store with Kyoko, Yachiyo finds Otoo’s long-lost wife, but is too slow to catch her, and she vanishes again. She becomes very sullen, which everyone notices. She asks Satou if he likes her while Mahiru is listening, and she becomes aware of the love triangle. Satou makes her promise not to tell everyone, but she feels so bad for Satou, Takanashi starts to think Mahiru likes him. Satou takes Yachiyo aside and promises her no one will ever hate him, including him, and she tells Otoo, who shrugs it off. Takanashi confronts Mahiru as well, and she allays his fear she likes Satou.

Yachiyo, Satou, and Mahiru act a little off this week, and it’s a testament to how well the staff knows each other that they almost instantly sense when they are off (Well, aside from that one waitress we still haven’t met…we wonder what the deal is with her.) Yachiyo, as usual, has the lowest possible opinion of herself, just over some little thing completely out of her control (a wife emerging from a manhole cover than vanishing as if she had disapparated, for instance). Her sudden inquiry to Satou was surprising though, she’s not the most forward person, after all. The ridiculously long pause was classic Satou.

Satou’s an interesting case: on one hand, you could say he’s a fool for not making his feelings perfectly clear to Yachiyo, who is so socially inept anyway. Whatever subtle signals he’s thrown out (and there haven’t been a lot), she’s not going to pick them up; he has to be firm and clear; loud and proud. But his reservations don’t just lie in his fear of rejection or his own shyness, but consideration for his boss, Kyoko. He feels like Yachiyo is off-limits. And in any case, falling in love with someone at work is tricky enough. Actually trying to have a relationship where you see each other all day and work with each other is trickier still.


Rating: 3

Bakuman 2 – 04

TRAP drops from third to eigth to ninth, worrying both Mashiro and Takagi. Takahama confirms their suspicion that Miura can be overoptimistic at times, and when another manga that kept sliding is cancelled, panic nearly sets in. Back at the editors’ office, Miura gets five different opinions by five other editors, and is initially unsure on how to proceed, but he ultimately warns against big changes to the manga. Mashrio agrees, feeling Takagi’s position hints of desperation. They’re all convinced that TRAP needs to be loud and proud about being a decent mystery, which sets it apart on Jack.

This week doesn’t let us forget that Ashirugi Muto aren’t out of the woods just because they’re serialized. One bad week could spell cancellation; there’s a crapload of manga waiting in line to be published. Case in point: both Fukuda and Nakai/Aoki’s manga are approved for serialization – on the same day. The pressure is truly on for TRAP. This episode was a quick succession of splashes of cold water, and also exposed not only the inexperience of the still very young author and artist, but the relatively green editor Miura as well.

Being inundated with multiple contradicting possible courses of action is always going to happen. Someone who’s good will take the course that is closest to matching what their gut instinct is telling them. One cannot operate without instinct in this industry – take Hiramaru: he’s loathing drawing a manuscript every week; he has all the talent and instincts, but the motivation and passion are lacking. Niizuma is pretty much pure instinct, an unsullied natural talent. Nakai and Fukuda have kept themselves going with hard work determination, and of course luck, like Takagi and Mashiro. What they really need next week is a jump in the rankings: something to reignite their confidence.


Rating: 3.5