Durarara!! x2 Shou – 06

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As plots and criss-crossing jobs are implemented, and the myriad enemies of the denizens of Ikebukuro amass, it’s the beginning of the end of “normalcy”, particularly for Celty. As she lies on the ground stunned by the other biker’s attack, she’s overcome by a desperate incredulity: things were so normal, and good…with her work, with her Shinra, with being able to be herself…this just can’t be happening, not now.

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A portion of the “abnormailty” slowly infecting all our friends’ lives is caused by one little girl, Akane, the granddaughter of Shiki’s CEO, whom Shiki hires Celty to find, while also keeping her eyes and ears opened for any information on Yadogiri Jinnai. This should have been a bad omen for Celty: this isn’t a normal transporting job, but she’s in a comfortable, safe place in her life and has Shinra’s blessing to keep working so she’s willing to take greater risks.

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Yadogiri, meanwhile, is after Akane too, and hires two elite foreign Assassins—Vorona and Sloan—to abduct her. The reason he needs the likes of them is that the girl will be protected by the Black Bike, whom Yadogiri believes is some kind of “magician” and thus human.

Would that Celty had Sloan’s intense superstition and penchant for getting stuck on very obscure thoughts like why men have nipples. Of course, Sloan is balanced out by the extremely knowledgeable and no-nonsense Vorona, who has straight, correct, and calming answers to all of Sloan’s bizarre questions.

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As Celty and Vorona begin their jobs, Akane is ironically at Shinra’s, the place Celty would be if she’d taken the night off. Brought there by Shizuo and Tom because they weren’t sure where else to take her, Akane runs a fever and Shinra puts her in bed to recover. Having her there puts Shinra at direct risk, especially if Shizuo leaves.

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Back in high school, Mikado takes Masaomi’s warning seriously and advises against going out at night for the weekend. He tells Aoba he has plans, but quickly backtracks when Aoba asks Anri out and it doesn’t look like Anri is going to turn him down.

It’s a rare but appreciated moment of Mikado asserting his fondness for Anri to the extent he’s not okay with some kohai going out alone with her. This, despite the fact neither quite know what they are to one another. Even with Masaomi gone, they haven’t grown that much. Then again, they’re still kids.

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As we know, Vorona finds Celty easily, sets a trap, beheads her without any trouble, and rides back to her and Sloan’s cool and cozy customized Mobile Assassin Base. It’s a great look into the lives of this peculiar new duo, but after Vorona explains why 13 is deemed unlucky by society, she comes up to sit in the cab with him and laments on how easy taking out Celty was (assuming she died when her head was removed)

She’s disappointed with how Ikebukuro has turned out so far. Doubtless she’d heard more impressive tales of the place…or possibly just watched the season one blu-ray and figured the town would put up more of a fight.

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But that’s the thing about Ikebukuro and the Dollars: Mikado never meant for them to be the kind of group that would pick fights with rival gangs or get swept up in supernatural battles. More than anything, it was meant to be a community of friends for Mikado. “Kanra”, i.e. Izaya, contacts Mikado (with Masaomi’s number) to essentially say it’s out of his hands, and an otherwise sleepy Saturday night turns more sinister.

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Anri, who was in the chat room along with Mikado and the twins, all noted that “Setton” (Celty) was missing. This unsettled Anri more than anything. Both Mikado and Anri’s rooms are so dark and foreboding looking, and lonely, that even the modest chat group cannot brighten them up. Those who are absent cast a far darker shadow.

That shadow rings Anri’s doorbell, and when she cracks the door, a pair of shears snap the chain. Is she “other job” Vorona mentioned? Whatever the case, things aren’t going to be normal from here on out.

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Mawaru Penguindrum – 13

“Dr.” Sanetoshi makes a deal with Kanba (somehow involving his heart) In order to administer a serum that restores her back to life. The episode deals with a host of flashbacks that document that fateful last day the Takakura children ever saw their parents. The police placed them in a hotel room as they searched their home for further evidence of their parents’ crimes, which resulted in deaths, including Momoka’s. Sanetoshi muses about fate, and whether it truly exists.The Tokyo Sky Metro celebrates its tenth annieversary. Ringo sends an email to her father stating she knows of his second family; she believes it was fate to encounter them.

Nothing in this world is pointless. Apparently, nothing in this series is pointless, either. The series continues to squeeze as much as it can out of every scene, every setting, every word…and every sign. Hints trickle down here and there, but like any good mystery, only enough to hold our interest; no more. This much is clear (which wasn’t earlier); the siblings’ parents did awful things. After all, they were “senior members” of something, for chrissake…that can’t be good. Also, the Metropolitan Police doesn’t send a battalion of detectives to your house on a whim.

While we’re piecing together more about the past, we’re wondering more and more how much longer Kanba can keep up whatever he’s doing to pay Sanetoshi to keep Himari alive, possibly tempting fate. Since the day their parents disappeared, the three “haven’t amounted to anything” by society’s standards, but they’ve stayed together as a family. The pain their parents caused to both Ringo, her family, and Tabuki through Momoka’s death is something Ringo always thought could be healed by becoming Momoka. I like how Tabuki seems to set her straight.


Rating: 4

Kamisama Dolls 13

Kukuri, singing the song it sung when Kyohei was its seki, saves Hibino and Kyohei and destroys Magatsuhi. Mahiru flees. While unconscious, Kyohei dreams of the past with Aki, Mahiru, and Senou. After he found Aki with a dead Senou, he threatened to kill him with Kukuri, lashing out at anyone who interfered, but without trying, Utao took control of Kukuri from him. He wakes up proclaiming Hibino is his, and Hibino just happened to be by his side. On the roof of the hospital, they kiss, and Hibino tells him not to worry about involving her in his troubles. Utao can no longer move Kukuri. Aki pays him Kyohei a visit, telling him he’s headed to the village, where he and the Elder Hyuga will reawaken the giant monster he defeated in the past. Kyohei takes the challenge.

Oh, wait, what? A second season is forthcoming? Well, ya’know what, that’s okay with me. After all I’ve invested in this excellent cast, I’d hate for it to end so abruptly. Once Magatsuhi was dealt with and everyone was out of danger, this became a much more laid-back, relaxed episode, almost as if it were winding down in preparation for hibernation (I’m unsure whether it will continue airing during the Fall season, or if it won’t be back until next year). That’s fine though. Cliffhangers aren’t mandatory by any means.

For all the trials ahead for our man Kyohei, and despite the fact Mahiru’s kakashi was wasted and Utao lost control of hers, this was also a surprisingly upbeat episode. Kyohei and Aki’s final scene together was awesome; these two can never escape the fact that they’re brothers, any more than they can escape Kurakami. This wasn’t the time for a final duel with tons of shouting; that’s yet to come. And Kyohei and Hibino finally lockin’ lips, with Hibino making the first move? Well, better late than never!


Rating: 3.5

Ao no Exorcist 13

The pieces of the Shura picture fall into place this week, as does Rin’s ultimate goal: to rise to become Paladin, this proving his dad right. This episode also did quite a lot to galvanize the legend of Fujimoto. This guy was truly something; a tamer of wild things. He molded Shura, once a feral, directionless terror, into his apprentice. He raised a son of satan not as a weapon against said satan, but as a son. He even tamed Kuro the cat sith.

Shura misunderstood why her master would go and throw away his life for a demon, but combined with her own demonic past and the love and kindness she sees in Rin during their “interrogation”, she concedes her late master’s wishes. It’s her job to toughen him up, while making sure he keeps his inner rage under control. Another thing we learn about Shura; she’s practically always had an aversion to shirts. Seriously, she’s so silly-looking.

Finally, we see that Mephisto is still hiding his true intentions. He says he abandoned Gehenna to help maintain peace and balance in the human world, but we have every reason to doubt him; I mean, look at his get-up, and the ridiculous decor his office. While Shura will probably become Rin’s tough-but-fair mentor, Mephisto and his ‘brothers’ are sure to make trouble for Rin in the future. Rating: 3

Sket Dance 13

I predicted that the Sket-dan would win the Bibage Tournament, it was just a matter of whether Roman or Bossun lost their challenge. It turns out, both of them lost. Roman was infinitely more charming than Uryuu, who wooed her target with a fat check. But it was just bad luck that the guy, while totally smitten with Roman, nonetheless chose the girl who was more “his type”. Roman did nothing wrong, it just wasn’t to be.

The final challenge seemingly becomes must-win when the council prez, Agata, raises the stakes: Whoever loses quits their respective club. Their challenge, Pixie Garden, is a game of wits, and the 200 (or 160) I.Q. Agata changes gears from laid back and affable to manipulative and ruthless. He disrupts Bossun’s concentration by bringing up something we’ve yet to learn: why Switch and Himeko are so trusting of and loyal to him. Why he wants to help people. Is he atoning for something?

In any case, Agata keeps Bossun tense the whole way, and is always a step or two ahead in the game. Even when Bossun remembers the order of the cards, he makes one mistake at the end, because Agata correctly predicted everything he’d do. He didn’t just lose, he lost at the worst possible time. His opponent did what he wanted to do: snatch victory from the jaws of defeat. It doesn’t matter, since the prez wasn’t serious…though it’s pretty funny how Sket-dan proceeds with a “Farewell Bossun” party anyway.

So yeah, this first half of Sket Dance was good school comedy with a lot of ridiculous side characters and a strong core trio of likable leads. The show never aims to be serious, and for the most part sticks to its strengths. It and its cast are eccentric, yet down to earth. I look forward to what they throw at us in the second half. Rating: 3.5

P.S.: For some reason, the two Bibage mascots reminded me of Panty & Stocking…

Tiger & Bunny 13

So it took about three weeks and half of the Heroes’ asses getting kicked for them to find out that – gasp – Jake Martinez has not one, but two powers: the barrier power, and telepathy. Interestingly, classically the least observant and analytical hero, Tiger, is the one who discovers this. Everyone else who fought him just kept rushing Jake until they could no longer stand. So the big bad of the season is dealt with through the use of…an ordinary stun grenade. Something that would disorient anyone. Sooo….why didn’t they use one at the beginning???

Well, the episode answers that question to my satisfaction: they needed to stall for time, and divert both Jake’s and Kriem’s attention while they set up a jamming signal for the exobots. Once they do, Fire Emblem, Blue Rose and Dragon Kid finally have something to do besides sit in a lounge and watch what we’re watching. I got the feeling that just about everyone played an important role this week, which is good. Also, the episode dispenses with excessive exhibition and starts right off the bat with Barnaby taking it to Jake. The combat animation is quick and sharp.

So yeah, I enjoyed this episode more than the previous two partially because it was better, but also because I knew this arc had to end eventually. It’s a bit of an anticlimax that Jake doesn’t even remember Bunny’s parents, but I’m glad that in the heat of the battle he didn’t say something to the effect of “Haha, I actually DO remember your parents! They begged for mercy yadda yadda yadda”; I feel like that line is overdone. He didn’t remember them, period. So, remember, if you want to hold a city hostage, have more than a team of just two people, both of whom are busy playing around while their robots are jammed and disabled. Rating: 3.5

Hanasaku Iroha 13

With this episode, the first half of the 26-episode run of Hanasaku Iroha comes to a strong close. And even though [C] ranked slightly higher this season, I consider this my second-favorite of the season, after runaway best, AnoHana. What’s more, I’m actually looking forward to the second half. This series has staying power.

Unlike those two 11-episode series, Hanasaku Iroha really is one of those series that benefits from being stretched out. It’s chock full of great characters, great atmosphere, and great slice-of-life…and has looked consistently awesome. I haven’t seen True Tears, and Canaan was underwhelming, but going forward this definitely could give my standing favorite P.A. Works piece, Angel Beats!, a run for its money.

This week was a family reunion of sorts, as the prodigal daughter Satsuki returns as per Ohana’s request. The horror stories of her little brother Enishi, who stayed by his mom’s side in the business, are really nicely depicted. Satsuki, for her part, has the typical gripes about the place and her mother not having changed a bit. But she isn’t just there to criticize; in fact, she invites her daughter and mother to her room and the three generations of Shijimas have a nice heart-to-heart-to-heart.

During this, a tossed(?) Ohana spills the beans about Ko; her mom and granny both think she’s giving up too easily; but this isn’t the only family reunion that took place. The other was Ohana returning to her family at Kissuiso; her friends Nako and Minko are like sisters to her, and she’s come to love the inn and everyone she works with. This is her life now; a life in Tokyo with Ko just wasn’t in the cards. Of course, this is her mom’s fault for shipping her here in the first place, but what happened happened, something good came out of it, and Ohana is staying put. She misses Ko, but she’s where she wants to be. Rating: 4

Level E 13

Level E goes out on a lofty note, which is not surprising considering the high level of quality it has sustained. A somewhat inocuous cliffhanger last week instantly comes into play: and more signs that the princess is not who she says she is surface. What follows is an intoxicatingly entertaining and confident story of intergalactic political intrigue and cerebral (and physical) cat-and-mouse.

As per usual, this story never lets you see all the cards it’s holding until the very end, but you’re having so much fun, you don’t have time to scratch your head. Things are always kept nice and breezy, even with the fate of earth on the line, but the lack of serious drama is never a problem. When Prince’s brother – who turns out not to be his brother, but then again, actually is – attacks him with a sword, we see perhaps for the first time what a truly slippery bastard he is.

But that double-twist – that his brother and bride are impersonating imposters to attempt to trick him – is perfectly executed. His brother may not be a match for him, but the princess is at least a match for him in the brains department – and perhaps even someone worth falling in love with. Thus in this final arc, Prince’s whole purpose for being on earth – to find some exploit worth his time and effort – would seem to pay off. And the final twist with the cat…nice touch! Rating: 4

Series Mean Ranking: 3.500

Oreimo 13

I love the character of Kuroneko – or should I say, Ruri Gokou. This episode only reinforces that esteem. It’s hilarious that once Kyousuke starts doting upon her, she starts almost the exact same act as Kirino, an attitude expressed in the opening theme that is full of contradictions. Even so, I still like her. And she likes Kyousuke, she just doesn’t want him to pity her.

For Kyou’s part, while part of him is lonely without his sister, he’s not really interested in Kuroneko as a surrogate little sister. He even admits this to her, while she’s in his bed, no less! (though obviously, the reason she’s there is perfectly innocent.) He’s stoked from the get-go that she’s attending his school, and that their relationship needn’t be defined solely by Kirino. Tamura, his betrothed, is surprisingly unthreatened by her arrival, even electing to call her by her nickname (it’s pretty funny how long Kyousuke’s known this girl without knowing her name).

And while much of this episode is spent enriching the friendship Kyousuke and Kuroneko as she adjusts to the new school, we’re introduced to another otaku, who while initially quite proper and prudish, turns out to be the homo-game-loving little sister of one of his best mates (in addition to the game programming club president being a long-tenured student and the one who lent him his bike…nice tied loose ends!).

It’s pretty funny to watch Kyousuke and Kuroneko poke and prod until her inner otaku is drawn out for all to see. They even regret doing so to a degree, as they get more than they had initially bargained for. This girl, Akagi, also bends the fourth wall a bit by mentioning there are a lot of anime out there…like the one she’s in. Rating: 4