Ao no Exorcist 23

Ernst mixes the blood of Rin and Yukio to open the Gehenna gate, but the Messiah weapon proves ineffective. A swarm of demons bursts forth from the gate, along with Satan. A flashback chronicles how Rin and Yukio’s mother Yuri became mixed up with demons to the point that Satan joined with her and gave her twin sons. Her own father Ernst was going to burn her at the stake, but Satan intervened. Fujimoto and Pheles were sent out to kill her and her demon spawn, but Fujimoto can’t do it. Back in the present, Ernst is sucked into Gehenna, while Satan possesses Yukio.

Yukio displays baffling naivete, Ernst lets out an evil laugh as he describes his diobolical plan, and Rin screams in that horrible way he screams that’s worse than nails on a chalkboard. Not a good start for the penultimate episode. I was also worried when the flashback had a flashback – nothing kills the thrust and momentum of a story in the present like a tangent into the past that occupies most of the episode. The series would have us believe that this story had to be told in great detail, but I for one was fine with some of the past being unknown or muddled. Some mystique was lost.

Also, if being possessed by Satan turns Yukio into such a wild, raging maniac, why does that same satan so calmly and vividly tell Yukio the story of how he and Rin came to be? He’s Satan; the ultimate unreliable narrator. And while he’s busy telling this intricate tale, the other characters are sidelined, doing absolutely nothing. So now, we have a Satan-possessed Yukio, who’s screaming a lot, but at least his screams aren’t as awful and shrill as Rin’s, but of course he’s upset, so he’s screaming too. I would hope that next week’s finale has a minimum of screaming, but I’m not going to hold my breath.


Rating: 2.5

Tiger & Bunny 23

Kotetsu duels with Barnaby until calling him Bunny restores his memory. Saito and Ben arrive to aid them in opposing Maverick, but he’s already captured all the other heroes and Kaede is a hostage. Maverick has also recruited Rotwang to develop androids that will replace the heroes. Kotetsu and Barnaby have to defeat the fake RoboTiger in order to save everyone, while the others have the option to save themselves by killing everyone else, a test of their bonds.

So, all it took was a little punching, a bitch slap, and some sobbing to snap Bunny out of it. The series wisely avoided what I had dreaded – Barnaby staying bad – and instead everyone is now united against Maverick. Of course, he has everyone where he wants them, and it all comes down to Tiger & Bunny being able to get the job done. By making a nice connection to the episode with the android woman who Sky High fell in love with, the point is driven home: this is not going to be easy or painless.

I realize Maverick is a rich and powerful guy who wants more riches and power, but as he is forced to take stronger and more dastardly measures, it’s pretty obvious his own greed and arrogance will be his undoing. Was it really necessary to make mortal enemies of such powerful people as the heroes under his employ? Does he truly believe androids will make better heroes than human NEXTs? Why exactly is he going so far? I’m not sure the series cares whether we understand him or not, only that he’s the bad guy and he has to go down.


Rating: 3

Sket Dance 23

Momoka, who has had some success with her voice-acting, is stuggling with capturing the voice and character of a little kid, so the Sket-dan invites her to join them in a series of childlike activities to recall how it feels to be young again. Later, Himeko and Momoka injest a mysterious cola that shrinks them into three-year-olds. Council members Kikuno and Unyuu also drink the cola and transform. It’s up to Bossun and Tsubaki to watch them until Chuuma makes the anecdote.

Apparently the writers couldn’t resist another Muppet Babies episode, only this time involving all the girls. Like the episode where Bossun shrunk, there’s a very nice texture and palette and smoothness to the animation. This episode distinguishes itself with much more action, including the girls chasing a cat, and Bossun chasing a truck on a bike (this seems to be a recurring thing in anime).

I am not a fan of chibi-style anime, which is basically how the three-year-olds are drawn here, but still enjoyed the episode. Besides the quality animation, there were plenty of funny moments – Himeko pretending to be a sumo wrestler, then hilariously trying to reach her hockey stick, for example. Or the return of the mustachioed PapaSwitch(TM). And the twist at the end where the antedote nets the girls the bodies of 27-year-old women, overshooting the mark. And of course, the fact that all of this kidding around was for naught: Momoka has to voice an infant.


Rating: 3

Hanasaku Iroha 23

The inn has an ill-favored mood as it’s likely it will be shut down. Takako is off to Tokyo to track down the producer who duped Enishi and the inn, as she plans to take over as madam manager. Ohana (now her niece) tags along, both to discuss her future with her mom and to possibly see Ko again. But her mom has already ‘kidnapped’ Ko. After spending the day together talking about Ohana, she plays the test footage for him, reignting his hope just when he was about to give up on her. The two then meet by chance on an overhead crossing.

“Never give up,” Takako says in her characteristic Engrish. That sentiment pertains not only to her goal to save Kissuiso, but to Ohana and Ko’s distance-strained relationship as well. Takako somehow finds one man among millions and gives him a judo throw…by not giving up. Whether she’ll get the money the inn lost back or not, she’s restored honor. Meanwhile, Ohana’s mom, while a bit nosy and manipulative here, has her heart in the right place, setting Ko straight vis-a-vis Ohana.

Ohana abandoned Ko when her mother abandoned her, but she never went to Yusonagi to learn to be a waitress, or fulfill her calling. She wouldn’t have gone at all if her mom hadn’t acted like a spoiled, impulsive child and run off with some random guy. So in a way, what Ohana’s mom does is amends of a kind. Now that Ko understands a little more, he and Ohana can proceed accordingly. But considering the manager needs Ohana back in two days (two episodes?), Ohana will have to be quick about it.


Rating: 3.5

To Aru Majutsu no Index II 23

The war for Academy City apparently experienced a false start, as Kazakiri’s angel transformation is halted and the Right Hand of God temporarily withdraws. No sooner does Accelerator regain consciousness is he recruited by some prettyboy in suit who apparently has a fake name and face.

There are brief moments with Index, Last Order and Misaka, but the majority of the episode is one last taste of school slice-of-life before the war starts in earnest. Touma has lunch with Hinamori, who starts to choke on a potato. When he rubs her back, it breaks her bra. Then Fukiyose takes her place, and before you know it, the entire class elects to hit up a sukiyaki joint. I have to say, after so much needlessly convoluted intrigue and saber-rattling between the magical and scientific factions in this impending war, this kind of calming episode suits me at this time.

While this isn’t a complete break from all of the political shit, it’s enough of one. I also didn’t mind Awaki Musujime returning, if only briefly. Still, I’m wondering if the climactic battle will make any sense, or the layers of muddled intrigue will collapse like a kind of anime souffle. One thing’s for sure: Touma will be punching a few more baddies before all’s said and done. Rating: 3

Bakuman 23

After the fruitless-yet-fruitful mangaka meeting, everyone improved their stories and art and submitted manuscripts for the “Golden Future Cup” on schedule. Even Koogy got his manga finished, despite waiting until the last minute to belt one out after an exhaustive PR campaign.

If this cup is all about votes, he may not have even had to put that much effort into his entry; at the end of the day, he has legions of loyal fans, and name recognition that many are eager to latch on to. His wry grin at the episode’s end suggests that he did well with both early and real deal results.

The thing is, so did everyone else. The results somewhat mirrored Niizuma’s prediction of a two-way tie for first, but otherwise, everyone was asked to write a serialization name. This looks to be a fierce battle. And the show does a great service in showing a taste of everyone’s manga up close; Koogy’s overwrought, pretentious, dialogue-less effort was particularly funny. Rating: 3.5

Star Driver 23

Star Driver returns to its more-or-less standard form: the love triangle heats up, while Takuto finally meets (and plants) his dad Head/R. Wako is fine with going on dates with both Sugata and Takuto on the same day, interrupted briefly by a Zero Time battle where Tauburn must go one-on-three with a very hungry Vanishing Age.

For the umpteenth time, Takuto is on the verge of defeat, but Sugata evens the odds by finding a way to be useful: by offering himself as a Tau missile for Takuto to shoot through the three enemy cybodies. I don’t really understand the meta-science or mechanics surrounding how that works, but its of little importance. Crux is dealt yet another humbling blow. Suffice it to say Takuto/Sugata can do whatever they want here in order to win. This makes it unlikely they’ll ever lose, which reduces the tension somewhat.

Still, the outcomes aren’t nearly as important as the character strides made in their leading-up. Last episode, Sugata finally woke up while Keito was present, exposing her as the heretofore-unknown East Maiden. Only by this episode’s end is this revisited, when Sugata shows up as King, the latest, greatest member of Crux. Does this mean Sugata’s now a Bad Guy, sharing their goal to break the last seal? Has he finally cast his ambiguous future with his betrothed – Wako – aside, in favor of Keito?

Earlier, following a duel that apparently ended in a draw (mirroring their stalemate regarding Wako), Sugata warns Takuto that his “bendable free-spirit” approach to facing challenges may not be enough to fully protect Wako, as opposed to calm, logical preparation. Could he have been warning Takuto about his own plans to join Crux? Stay tuned… Rating: 3.5

Star Driver returns to its more-or-less standard form: the love triangle heats up, while Takuto finally meets (and plants) his dad Head/R.

Wako is fine with going on dates with both Sugata and Takuto on the same day, interrupted briefly by a Zero Time battle where Tauburn

must go one-on-three with a very hungry Vanishing Age.

For the umpteeth time, Takuto is on the verge of defeat, but Sugata evens the odds by finding a way to be useful: by offering himself as a

Tau missile for Takuto to shoot through the three enemy cybodies. I don’t really understand the metascience or mechanics surroudning

how that works, but its of little importance. Crux is dealt yet another humbling blow.

Last episode, Sugata finally woke up while Keito was present, exposing her as the heretofore-unknown East Maiden. Only by this

episode’s end is this revisited, when Sugata shows up as King, the latest, greatest member of Crux. Does this mean Sugata’s now a Bad

Guy, sharing their goal to break the last seal? Has he finally cast his ambiguous future with his betrothed – Wako – aside, in favor of Keito?

Earlier, following a duel that apparently ended in a draw (mirroring their stalemate regarding Wako), Sugata warns Takuto that his

“bendable free-spirit” approach to facing challenges may not be enough to fully protect Wako, as opposed to calm, logical preparation.

Could he have been warning Takuto about his own plans to join Crux? We’ll see… Rating: 3.5

To Aru Majutsu no Index II 22

Hmm…not much to say here. Touma fights Vento and inevitably punches her after she reveals why she hates science so much (and it’s a fairly flimsy one…the hospital didn’t have enough blood to save both her and her brother after an amusement park ride accident? Really?) Naturally, an even more powerful member of God’s Right Hand shows up to collect her; Touma barks at him, and yet another future duel is set up. Can’t Touma lose occasionally, just to spice things up?

Meanwhile, back in some office where Kihara has Last Order hostage, Accelerator fights him until he “runs out of juice”, then fights some more. The stamina of this guy, seriously. He also lets out a few Niizuma Eiji-esque adolescent squeals for good measure, refusing to go down even when Kihara tosses a grenade on his face (!). Accelerator is so hell-bent on protecting the munchkin, he even grows black wings and launches himself and Kihara into the stratosphere like a rocket…though that may have had something to do with Index’s singing…I’m not quite sure.

And as Mikoto Misaka was fighting off Hound Dog, the whole trio had stuff to do. I just wish I cared more about it now that so much has been built up. Sadly, listening to Index try to understand what’s going on herself while on the phone with Misaka kind of justifies my bemused indifference to the events of this episode. A whole lot of stuff happens, but the impact is sadly lacking. I guess all the complex factional wrangling and all the religious, magical and scientific mumbo-jumbo is starting to jade me. Rating: 3