Huey and Dalian encounter a woman in the park who can play the violin like a champ. She turns out to be Christabel Sistene, a famous violinist. It turns out she is a doll/android. Her companion Dallaglio built her to be able to play the dual unplayable “phantom scores” of Guillermo Baldini. Baldini’s music can have the same effect as narcotics, which the wealthy patron Kendrick exploits to begin an “artistic revolution.” However, when the concert begins, Christabel plays not the hypnotic Utopia score, but the destructive Twilight score, which destroys the hall and the phantom scores, and kills Kendrick and his ilk.
When Stravinsky’s “Rite of Spring” was first performed, the sounds were so new and strange, the audience rioted. It was neat to see that same principle employed here: the music has all sorts of effects on people, from addition to bliss to despair. I can forgive the anachronistic android in this time period; the creators aren’t going for historical accuracy. It stands to reason when humans can’t do something easily or at all, they built something to do it for them, as Dallaglio did here with Christabel. His intention was to clear his’ father’s good name, but his creation would be perverted into a weapon by Kendrick.
Kendrick is an interesting villain, for as little as we get to see him. His obvious fatal flaw is believing Christabel has no free will or connection to her creator – she does. But his dream of a bloodless, “artistic revolution” with which to seize power. It’s a great scheme in theory: use the addictive music to bend others to his will, and use the destructive music as a threat against those who would oppose him. He could have simply used Christabel to make himself lots of money: if your customers are addicted, you’ll never want for cash – but obviously he had grander designs. Ironic too that being in the soundproof room prevented him from hearing Christabel’s “warning” music that led to everyone else’s evacuation.
Saya fights an elder bairn that’s nothing but a head, a spine, and hair, who may or may not be her mother. Tokizane is killed. Her father disappears. Fumito serves her more coffee and grimauves. Her teacher Tsutsutori asks if she can take a look at the shrine library, and when they discover all the books are brand new, and all blank save the one about the legend of the elder bairns, Tsutsutori insists Saya stop “playing this game”…then Nono and Nene reappear, as if they were never killed.
What’s in her coffee? What’s in those grimauves? What exactly is up with Saya? The mystery thickens this week, as many things we’ve held true to this point are upended. The ghost story Tsutsutori tells in class sounds the same as the legend in the book, but why is the book new? Why are the others blank? Fumito is acting stranger than ever. What’s hiding behind his kind smile? Why is his arm heavily bandaged after Saya’s father disappeared. Did he off him?
As for Tokizane, his insistence on running in to help Saya had a predictable result: his death. It was far quicker and less gory than those of late. But with Nono and Nene back from the dead and Saya having all manner of visions, I’m starting to wonder myself if anyone at all is even dead, and that the legend is a fabrication. Each week there’s a veneer of repetition that could grow grating, but each week a new revelation comes to light, though we’re still a long ways from the truth of things. For now, Saya is just trying to keepitogether.
Shoma survives the car accident and wakes up in the hospital, where Kanba and Himari are with him. Ringo apologizes profusely. The redhead then kidnaps him. The ransom is the half of the diary Ringo still possesses, which she’s willing to give up to save Shoma. After Kanba fails at subterfuge he’s sent on a psycadelic wild goose chase, where the redhead teases him. Ringo gives her the rest of the diary, abandoning Project M and her duty to become her sister Momoka. Also, Shoma hopefully learns now NOT TO EAT ANYTHING GIVEN TO HIM.
Right now, this series can do no wrong. I can’t believe we’re only ten episodes in, it’s so jam-packed with stuff. Some of it can lead to near-critical levels of Whimsy, But I’ve not yet tired of its rich imaginative-ness (IMAGINE!). Because this isn’t just about eye candy. The candy is just that, icing on the cake that is a really good, rich, clever mystery. Hints to its answers are hidden in plain sight. There’s terrific action, but it doesn’t overpower the proceedings. And then there’s the characters. The redhead is still an enigma (what is the ‘it’ that ‘must be crushed soon’? Kanba?) but she showed some playfulness for the first time, suggesting we may learn more about her soon.
Kanba and Himari have a cute talk about gifts from girls (in which gifts are described that Redhead later provides). And then there’s Ringo. The shock of seeing her slave boy hit by a car seems to be enough to snap her out of her derangement. She didn’t mention her unrequited love once. Nor did she mention fate or destiny. Instead, she did something very redeeming: she gave it all up for Shoma’s sake, after he saved her life. Just when you though she’d gone off the deep end, she’s human again, and a nice one at that.
Having gained access to the prison via capture, Shion and Nezumi must climb a mountain of dead and dying bodies in order to reach their ultimate destination. As they progress through the prison, Shion starts to hear Safu, and he becomes virtually possessed by a force that drives him towards her, making him calm, cold, and merciless to the security guards. He snaps out of the trance and the two meet up with Safu, as was planned by Elyurias.
Nezumi hopes beyond hope that the Shion he entered the prison will be the same one who leaves, but that grows less and less likely as he’s exposed to its visceral horrors. I can’t imagine why such unspeakably horrible measures need to be taken to preserve No. 6, and the systems in place seem to dwarf any possible human effort to oppose them. Of course, the power of Elyurias seems to be beyond the power of those who run No. 6. One would hope, that is.
This episode is full of quick, kinetic action sequences, as we finally get to see Nezumi do what he does best. But for all their efforts and good intentions, I can’t help but feel that Elyurias – whomever she/it is – may not be altogether benevolent herself, and that Shion and Safu are merely her instruments, carrying out her will without a shred of their own. If they were themselves, they certainly wouldn’t kill, and yet, here they are, killin’!
The days get chillier, and Rin gets sick with fever for the first time under Daikichi’s care, catching a stomach virus that kicks her ass. The ordeal scares the crap out of him, but Hitani is there to help him keep his cool and nurse Rin back to health. With so much proximity, the two parent-and-child pairs are starting to rely on each other more and more, making the group even more closely resemble a family.
When I was a kid, getting sick just plain sucked; enough that you can bet I didn’t care how my parents felt. In fact, I remember them staying calm most of the time, and I can recall several occasions when I thought I was getting sick but they assured me I either wasn’t or it wasn’t that bad. Of course, when I was Rin’s age, I’ll bet they were just as doting (and the same nervous wrecks) Daikichi and Hitani are here.
He knows she’ll get better; that these things happen, but there are often moments when he seems to despair. Hitani is right there to advise him though, having dealt with this kind of thing with Kouki. She proves to be an incredibly caring woman here, and it speaks volumes about how close she and Daikichi are that she knows she can show up without warning and help out. These events only reinforce my prediction that they’ll grow closer still.
Mahiru of the Hyuga clan arrives in Tokyo unbeknownst to Koushiro or anyone else, and immediately makes her presence felt. Kuuko has put Aki before the diet member representing Kurakami village, who believes it’s time for the village to change with the times, which means eliminating the elders. He’s called Mahiru for the same purpose, though she insists she only came to see Kyohei, whom she loves and idolizes ever since a terrifying incident covered in a flashback.
So…yeah, introducing a character as volatile as Mahiru this late in the series was a bold move. She didn’t make the best first impression on me, but I had to remember, she’s essentially a princess, and she is a pretty powerful seki – some swagger comes with that. She’s also loud, highly irrational, prone to mood swings, and even a little sadist (she zaps Kuuko with her own stun gun just for the heck of it). In a word: unhinged. Seiyu Kana Hanazawa’s performance is feistier than I’ve heard her in a while – kind of a Kuroneko taken up a couple notches – I like it. Mahiru grew on me as the episode progressed and I learned more about her.
In a character- and action-packed flashback, Kyohei puts his life on the line numerous times to save Mahiru’s – and Aki’s – lives, when the three stumble upon a sekiless monster kakashi. It was an incredibly traumatic experience for all involved, but Kyohei saved the day, though he says it was the day he “lost his sanity.” Whatever happened, Mahiru still adores him for it, and despises Aki for being as helpless as she was, and a pain-in-the-ass to boot (he was ‘good’ back then, but the warning signs were there). Along with Hirashiro – the Diet guy – and his plans to uproot the old way in the village, there’s now a whole new layer to the series’ story. More to the point, do we care if those dusty elders get offed? Do I smell a second season…?
Claude is off to Dijon to meet with an important client about new metalwork. Claude has to study his late father’s work, and it brings back memories of his childhood when his father was still alive and business was booming. He’s conflicted about keeping the business running by simply copying what his father did. Meanwhile, Oscar keeps Yune and Alice entertained with a projector and phenakistoscope found while Yune was cleaning the storeroom.
My favorite scene this week was when Yune remembered what Claude told her about the metalworks shop: His father and grandfather worked to make every metalwork sign in the entire Gallery, so their skill is on display everywhere, with signs fulfilling the dual purpose of advertising for the shop it hangs over as well as advertising for the one who made the sign. It’s as impressive as it is sad; the best days seem to be behind both the Gallery and the metal shop.
Claude’s father was a genius with metal, but Claude also remembers him being cold and stern. This new job in Dijon is the latest challenge – can he outdo his departed dad? Oscar has never pushed him to keep the business going. The question is, is he keeping the fires of the forge burning for his father, or for himself? Not much to say about the B story involving Yune, Alice, Oscar, and eventually the whole gallery; it was pleasant enough. People were certainly easily entertained back then!
Shiro calls Ganta weak and a jerk. Truer words were never spoken. At least he admits he’s pathetic, but I have to say I was pretty disappointed with his reaction to Shiro saving his life by tossing the datachip bomb. Neither he nor the rest of Scar Chain could connect the dots until a totally tweaked-out Rokuro showed up at their hideout to spell it out to them. Of course, the damage is already done; Ganta has already slapped Shiro and told her he never wants to see her again. Treating Wretched Egg like that will have consequences.
So Rokuro arrives to take the remnants of the resistance hostage until Nagi/Owl defects to the Undertakers. The Priest pumps him full of drugs to speed things along. Beneath his earlier calm demeanor, Owl does seem to be barely-contained utter chaos personified. Rokuro comes with undertakers (both silly-looking freaks of nature) who seem ready to kill Ganta when Crow arrives in the nick of time with an awesome supersonic blood blade. He then refuses to help Scar Chain, basically contradicting what he just did (help a weakling) by saying only the strong should survive. Ganta may have potential to be strong, but he isn’t strong now. He seems helpless.
And losing Shiro, even temporarily, didn’t help. Now she’s making friends with Mockingbird, whose motives we can only guess. What we do know is that s(he) is androgynous and voiced by Miyuki Sawashiro, and gained some of Shiro’s trust by warning her about the datachip Ganta carried. Ganta needs to get his shit together. Weeks past, he was able to defeat both Crow and Hummingbird. Where the heck did that strength go? Finally, we get a brief glimpse at Makina’s personal crusade to expose Tamaki, but it seems the defence ministry is already well-aware and complacent with his methods and plans. I’m holding out hope Makina will have a role to play in Wonderland’s demise – if it occurs. Rating: 3.5
This series’ ability to really tug at the heartstrings without coming off as schmaltzy, while simultaneously infusing so much life and emotion into every single one of its characters, never ceases to amaze me. This show has almost rendered RABUJOI’s 4-ranking irrelevant – just about every episode has been excellent and a cut above most of the rest of this spring season, now winding to a close. This was one of the best yet, when all the build-up around Menma’s “firework send-off” comes to a super-dramatic head. Not one minute is wasted.
Poppo, planner-in-chief, plans a farewell party. Yukiatsu isn’t planning on going at first, preferring to wait for the rocket launch itself. But after meeting Anaru, he comes up with a plan, one that is both devious and necessary for catharsis. He convinces Anaru to re-enact that day years ago, when she asked Jintan if he loved Menma. This time, he tells the truth: he does. I thought for a moment Menma was going to disappear right there – but she just cries, and later tells him she loves him too, and probably would have ended up marrying him if she was still alive. This kills Jintan, because this is also what he wanted.
He’s so desperate to keep her around, he even asks if its okay if she just stays. But she wants to go to heaven; his mom taught her about reincarnation, which is her only hope of her being able to talk to everyone else. Jintan wants her to himself; but considers that maybe he alone isn’t enough for Menma. It isn’t fair to her. Saying he loves her out loud sends Anaru into a crying fit, at which point Tsuruko tells her she too has her unrequited love, (Yukiatsu), but her situation is worse: If Menma goes, Jintan may warm to Anaru, but Tsuruko never thinks Yukiatsu will come around to her.
This brings us to the climactic firework launch, which is gorgeously presented; I particularly loved the quick “camerawork” which lent to the tension and gravity of what was about to happen: Menma is really going to go, and Jintan doesn’t open his mouth to stop it until it’s too late. It’s up in the air, and with it, quite a bit of weight. Only one problem: It Didn’t Work. Menma is still there, and all the issues that come with her still being there remain as well. That’s fine with Jintan, but the obvious question is, what now? Only one episode left; will Menma ever go, and how will that happen? Rating: 4
Makoto meets his second “alien” since arriving in town. Her name is Yashiro, and he has a sneaking suspicion she’s a local runaway girl he’s heard about. And naturally, Meme invites her in. When her astronaut’s helmet finally comes off, she’s revealed to possess the same otherworldly beauty as cousin Erio, only with glowing white hair rather than blue. Erio’s beauty, btw, is what engenders so much envy and resentment among other girls in the town, according to Hanazawa-san.
Yashiro is more forward with Makoto, and readily insults him, due to the “half-assed” way he and Erio live their life. I’d beg to differ, especially since Makoto pops his phone-call-with-Ryuushi cherry this week as well. He even learns that Nakajima, the guy he played ball with last week, is a guy she turned down, and she heavily hints that if it was Makoto who confessed, her response would have been very different. She also invites him to join her at the town festival. Despite the fact they didn’t meet in person this week, things are moving along very nicely in the girlfriend arena.
But this Yashiro kid has the same bewitching power that Erio has; perhaps more concentrated. And even I can’t explain how she made so much water fall on Makoto when he was fifteen feet away behind a fence, except to concede that perhaps she is in fact an esper as well as an alien. It was certainly the most “supernatural” phenomenon to occur so far, if you don’t count the fact the rather plain Makoto is attracting so many ladies. Finally, was it just me, or did this episode contain an unusual amount of cutsiness? Rating: 3.5
Things aren’t going well with the conquest of Ms. Nagase. He plans to pick up the pace by pissing her off, which basically worked for all previous girls, but all of his tactics prove ineffective. Her strong initiative is constantly throwing him off guard. But when she tries to play PFP with him and airs out what she believes his problem is, he rudely rebukes her, bruising her confidence that is already weakened by the loose soul.
That a loose soul entered her as soon as she returned to her old school turns out not to be mere coincidence: she was the captain of the school’s last powerhouse hoops team, and there was clearly some kind of trauma from a falling out with her team after winning the championship. When Keima tries to learn more about Nagase (and become equals with her) through her senpai and former teammate, Ms. Nikaido, he learns that she’s always been depressed. He may not be able to afford her birthday, e-mail, or BWH, but the basketball hint seems to be enough to get him back on track.
And none too soon; while he was trying to warm up to the cool-as-ice Nikaido, the rest of the student body, who once welcomed Nagase enthusiastically, start ostrasizing her for being too passionate. Again we see that the common bond they share is that of ideals over reality, albeit in different ways. She insists kids should be encouraged to be the best they can be because they all have limitless potential (a fairly American point of view), and doesn’t like teachers breaking the cool, hard facts of life to them.
She wants everyone to have an ideal life, even if they don’t care. By being worn down by both teachers and students baffled by her excessive passion, Keima finally has the opening he needs. All that’s left is for him to make her reveal that past that’s haunting her, learn to see him as a romantic interest, not a student, and pull that nasty ol’ loose soul outta her. Rating: 3.5
After a hilarious cold open in which the Sket-dan enacts a parody of Kimi ni Todoke for no good reason, the balance of the episode is dedicated to one client, Yagi. Her friend Kuramoto wants Sket to cheer her up, but they end up unraveling a DVD-cheating mystery/name-clearing mission. Still fresh off her impression of Sawako, she’s afraid Sawako will jump out of a “cursed” DVD they find, Bossun thinks it’s an embarrassing video of Yagi cosplaying, while Switch has…dirtier thoughts.
It turns out to be midterm math problems filmed with night vision in the teacher’s office. Yagi’s possession of such video would seem to suggest cheating, but she is innocent, and the circumstances are extenuating. It turns out, a rogue teacher who sells test info to students misplaced the disc, and subsequently tries to frame Yagi, who was the prior victim of unfounded cheating rumors, and hence kept quiet. Naturally, nothing about Sket-dan is quiet, and they soon make her spill the beans.
This leads to a gut-busting confrontation with the teacher, who defies Sket-dan to uncover evidence of his malfecsence, on pain of explusion. They not only catch his visage in a mirror on-camera, but get him to literally broadcast his confession to the entire school (it being the broadcasting club they’re in). Once again, the dynamic trio of Bossun’s concentration, Himeko’s feminine sensibilities, and Switch’s technical know-how solve yet another problem. If they charged more than mere smiles, they could make a mint. Rating: 3.5
Clain and Nessa tear after Phryne in the dinghy (why did Sunda leave it there for them, anyway?) while Phryne tries to reason with her mom, the Grand Priestess. As the battle between Lost Millenium and the Temple continues, I continue to be unimpressed with it; huge sky battles should be more exhilarated, but I fear this isn’t the animators’ forte. The CGI models just look like rubber duckies floating around with slapped-on particle weapon beams.
The rather dull battle aside, the psychological stakes couldn’t be higher. Phryne’s mother isn’t any more pleasant than her father, as her syrupy platitudes ring hollow when she coaxes Phryne to her lap, only to strangle her half to death. Apparently her mother is also her sister (in a way), because when she was young she was Phryne too, only she wasn’t up-to-snuff enough to serve as the key to the world. She’s bitter, hence the choking.
Basically, Clain kinda fails hard in the Protect-Nessa-and-Phryne department. His first slip-up was not keeping an eye on Phryne, leading her to run off again. Nessa follows him to Temple HQ, so now both parts of the key are in enemy territory. Finally, he’s on the wrong side of a plate glass window when Phryne’s pederast father sniffs her out and grabs her. That’s three strikes in my book; it’ll take a miracle (or deus ex machina) to get the love-lovin’ trio out of this spot… Rating: 3