Ao no Exorcist 22

Ernst overthrows the existing bureaucracy and names himself Pope, and rises Yukio to the rank of Paladin and head of the Japanese branch. Rin and all the other members of True Cross Academy are armed and given a new edict: kill as many demons as possible. The weapons absorb demon blood for a ritual to open the Gate of Gehenna and destroy Satan for good. Rin is the sacrifice to unlock the gate, while Yukio transforms into a demon himself.

This episode covered a lot of ground. One could almost say the series is now in a hurry to wrap things up. Ernst showed up a couple episodes ago, and we have no idea who he is or what made him so evil; all we know is, he’s a Bad Guy with plans for world domination, and he’s ensnared an extremely naive (and stupid) Yukio with a promise to save Rin by restoring his full humanity. The force of all the sudden change is so great this week it sweeps everyone up before they can even complain.

This episode also sets a firm morality concerning the fundamental role of exorcists. They’re supposed to slay demons, but not all demons. There are good ones, like Kuro the Cait Sith, Izumo’s foxes, and countless demons who protect forests, rivers and the like. In this regard, our protagonists should be on the side of Princess Mononoke. Like humanity, there is an entire spectrum of demonhood stretching from good to bad. What Pope Ernst has ordered upsets the balance of things. He’s bad, and our ragtag group of students – and Rin, if he’s still alive – must stop him.

Rating: 3

Sket Dance 22

The principal comissions a picture play targeted at children, and the Sket-dan decide to use Momotaro as a template. However, Bossun and Switch create a random, rambling tale that isn’t suitable for anyone, let alone children, and is summarily rejected. Later, the principal asks the Sket-dan to babysit his rich, standoffish grandson, and find he’s immune to their charms…until they go outside and make him play baseball.

The thing about parodies is, if you aren’t familiar with the source material, it’s hard to know exactly what’s going on or why it should be funny. I don’t know anything about Momotaro, and yet the Sket-dan’s parody was still funny because it was so wildly ridiculous in its presentation. Himeko’s constant feedback was also entertaining.

The second segment is funny because it shows how zany and immature Sket-dan can be, and how maturity sometimes has nothing to do with age. Yoshihiko may be ten or so, but he may as well be forty. He doesn’t have friends or fun like kids his age should. He even fears getting his expensive clothes dirty if he plays. So it’s good that Bossun & Co. were eventually able to coax the kid into a semblance of a childhood.

Rating: 3

Tiger & Bunny 22

Tiger faces the Heroes with no plan, Kaede drops in and restores their memories, but Barnaby is absent, so he remains convinced Kotetsu murdered his Auntie Sam. Tiger goes all “come at me bro” and the two former allies chase each other all over Sternbild. Meanwhile, the other heroes face Fake Tiger, and unmask him to reveal…well, they don’t actually show his face…

Well now, how could I have forgotten that Kaede was touched on the head by Maverick? Well I did…Oops! So she isn’t really a deus ex machina, because the logic of her character and the plot allowed her to have those powers.Still, her arrival in the knick of time was awfully convenient. As for the heroes, they’re extremely susceptable to mediocre stalling tactics.

The second half was all Tiger & Bunny going at it. Tiger decides for some reason that it’s better for him to lead Bunny away from the other heroes and make him give chase on a crowded expressway and through city intersections, putting thousands of Sterbilders at mortal risk. Considering Tiger’s commitment to protecting the public, this was either a lapse of judgement on his part – or the writers.

Rating: 3

Star Driver 22

Ah, so Takuto and Wako finally kiss, but alas, it’s in the context of a play. A surprisingly decent and interesting play, by the way. It had to be: if something frivilous and silly had taken up more than 3/4ths of the third-to-last episode, it would have been an unfortunate waste. But armed with the same ebullient orchestration as the series proper; excellent pacing and progression, an a simple but moving story, the play was less of a detour and more of what Star Driver does best: enrich its cast with every episode.

This was another rare episode with no Zero Time and no cybodys. An I daresay it was also the first in which nobody is in Glittering Crux mode (everyone in costumes this week are normally just wearing their school uniform); no one flashes the sign; there isn’t one word uttered about the cult. I appreciate the confidence of this anime to leave that stuff out for once.

This week wasn’t without its revelations (well, for chracters, not necessarily us): Sugata learns that Keito is the Eastern maiden, and has been helping him come out of his deep slumber (maidens just have to be nakked to do their stuff, I guess…) and Takuto’s first crush (a girl with a very cute and unique voice) shows up to sign off on Wako, whom Takuto apparently talks about a lot. Still, Wako’s in a love triangle with Sugata and Takuto; breaking free of it, if that’s what she wants – will be quite tricky. Rating: 3.5

Bakuman 22

In hindsight, I didn’t really expect anything to come out of “Team Fukuda” protesting the fact they’ll have to compete against a celebrity, namely Koogy. Remembering what the chief editor told him that all manga need to be is “interesting”, Mashiro decides he’ll face Koogy anyway. If Koogy wins, so be it; it will be a hollow victory forged from his previous success as a rock star; not necessarily because he has the superior manga.

As to that: when everyone’s plans to make the contest fairer are deflated, they all decide instead to have a collective name-reading and critique. They choose Niizuma’s place as the venue, and he joins in as a neutral voice. Naturally, everyone thinks their own manga is the best, but when Aoki first blurts this out, she kinda sounds like a bitch. This shouldn’t be a meeting to determine whose is the “best” (that’s for the readers/editors to decide anyway), its about sharing suggestions, like Fukuda, Nakai, and Mashiro did with Niizuma’s “Crow”.

That can’t really happen here: everyone’s poured so much of their souls into their own works, it’s impossible to contribute to mangas they’re competing against, however much constructive criticism they may harbor within. To offer too much assistance would be to risk torpedoing one’s own chances.

Meanwhile, Miho is progressing along her rather odd lfiepath of becoming a seiyu. I like how Miyoshi is more honest than kind when it comes to critiquing Miho’s singing ability; I myself find it a bit lacking compared to say, Maaya Sakamoto’s. Still, however silly it seems for her to cosplay and perform in Akiba, it’s all for the dream. Rating: 3.5

To Aru Majutsu no Index II 21

Okay, so let’s sort all this madness out: Crowley is bad, because he’s hurting Kazakiri; Vento is bad because she’s trying to kill Touma, and Kihara’s bad because she’s trying to use Last Order and kill Accelerator. Touma finally hooks up with both Index and Misaka to try to sift through all the chaos these bad guys are causing.

It’s here where it isn’t really and issue whose “side” you’re on; magical or scientific. Touma has friends on both sides, and there are good people on both sides. He’s not interested in either side dominating the other; he just doesn’t want people messing with his friends. And a lot of people are messing with his friends…and his city.

Accelerator is doing things his own way, taking out a board director to find out what the seedy underbelly of Academy City has planned for the church invaders. He also seems to be having quite a lot of fun killing people in the process. And punching a building, moving it several blocks, and smashing it into another? Nice trick! Rating: 3.5