Ao no Exorcist 24

Yukio is possessed by Satan, who swears a lot and laughs like a jackass. Shura, Shiemi, and Rin try to get Yukio to snap out of it, but only Rin succeeds, after sufficient yelling and a few tears. They manage to free Yukio, but Satan is still on the loose, and the massive Gehenna Gate remains open.

The Satan in this series just doesn’t work for me as a character. I just hate him. I know, we’re supposed to hate him, but he’s so implacably evil and unlikable, there’s never any doubt that he will ultimately be cast aside and defeated. I hate that he’s a weak, goofy, one-dimensional villain. Why there was a flashback episode with Yuri and Satan I don’t know, but it certainly didn’t rouse any sympathy for the Satan character. He’s a big jerk, period. And yet this whole episode does nothing but prove that point ad nauseum, along with provide the predictable heartfelt beseeching Yukio to wake up.

Thankfully, Cardinal Ernst didn’t have any stupid longwinded religio-political speeches, but the line of the episode had to be (former) Paladin August’s: “But genocide using a weapon of mass destruction contradicts the Order (of the True Cross)’s principles!” Seriously? That line was written? And it actually had to be spoken by somebody?

Rating: 2.5

Sket Dance 24

In the first half, the Sket-dan get involved in a dispute between Shinzou and his delinquent little brother, Shinpei. They help Shinpei fight off thugs who stole his brother’s sword, then meet the conditions for him to make up with Shinzou. The second half is a flashback from when Switch was still an eighth-grader. The segment is narrated by his year-older brother Masofumi, who taught him how to program computers. Switch has surpassed him in everything, including that, but he’s proud of him. His friend and neighbor Sawa is being pursued by a stalker, who goes so far as to leave a death threat in her mail slot.

These two halves were both about brothers, but that’s where the similarities end. While I’m always up for a Shinzou episode just to hear his archaic way of speaking, if I had to choose a half, I’d pick the latter. Bossun and Himeko have both been shrunken down into kids, but Switch is the guy we know next to nothing about. And he finally talks here! Though it’s when he’s 14. At this point he hasn’t met Bossun or Himeko, but he knows of the latter.

I also like it when normally silly shows like Sket Dance get serious from time to time, and that certainly happens here, albeit with a fairly cliche’d stalker premise. This looks to be a parody, but rather than use slapstick, it’s played pretty straight. Most interesting is that Masofumi’s is the voice Switch uses when he types-to-speech in the present. I’m not sure this story will get that dark, but it’s possible Switch speaks with his brother’s voice is that perhaps it’s in honor of his memory. Interestingly, this half-segment won’t be resoleved until next week.

Rating: 3.5

Tiger & Bunny 24

Tiger & Bunny have to dodge the H-01’s attacks until their powers return, and even when they do, it has little effect on the ultra-powerful android. Rotwang tortures the other heroes by making them decide whether they should save only themselves or risk everyone dying. Kaede manages to escape her captors and take Rotwang out, but by then Bunny has already used the H-01’s weapon to destroy him while Tiger holds him down. The blast mortally injures Tiger in the process, or so it seems.

By the end of last week we were left with the questions: with the heroes’ bonds of friendship outlast their own desire for survival? Will Tiger & Bunny defeat the big bad android? Will Kaede be made safe? The answer to all three is yes. Duh. The execution of these objectives wasn’t the most elegant or innovative process it the world, but it got the job done. Rotwang’s typical villain-gloating and watching everyone’s reactions in the cells got awfully repetetive though.

So did what should have been epic climactic battle with the H-01, which consisted mostly of the two heroes releasing battle cry after battle cry, then bouncing off of him. But the one thing I didn’t expect was for Tiger to be killed in this last episode. Or was he? He certainly lost consciousness. It’s a big city; get him to a hospital already. If he is dead, it wasn’t the most necessary death in the world. It didn’t even make that much sense. Why is Tiger suddenly strong enough to hold the android? Why didn’t it simply contort its way out of his hold? We’ll never know.

Rating: 3

To Aru Majutsu no Index II 24

The finale of Index II had some very nicely-animated combat scenes and plenty of cameos from all of the characters introduced throughout the series’ run, but ultimately it wasn’t very satisfying. The predictability of the outcome of this season’s arcs got a bit tiring, and by this, the fifteenth or so instance of Touma saving the world by punching someone, was both anti-climatic and a tad boring.

That defragmented montage of cameos at the end kinda said it all: all of these dozens of characters made appearences, but they never seemed to play any real crucial part to the story. It’s as if once their one of two episodes of fame were used up, they kept showing up in episodes, as if no one had told them they weren’t needed anymore. Index II tried to stuff as many people and as many layers of intrigue it possibly could, and ended up with an unfocused, muddled mess.

Iif there will be a second season of Index II to continue all of the stories and conflicts left open-ended at the end of this first season, I may not be troubled to watch it. So much of this series was wasted with the inclusion of excessive characters with schemes and motives that usually boiled down to they’re bad guys Touma needs to punch. Perhaps the unnecessary window dressing jaded me. Splitting up Touma and Mikoto (who IMO have the best chemistry of any other pair) didn’t help matters, nor did giving Accelerator so much friggin’ screen time (he’s a psychotic, invincible mass murderer, and I yet I still don’t find him interesting). Rating: 3

Series Mean Ranking: 3.312

Star Driver 24

Another seal bites the dust, as Keito reveals herself to both Crux and Takuto/Wako as the East Maiden, while Sugata too removes his mask and prepares to drive King Samekh. It’s a chilling moment when Keito essentially offers herself to the cause, having already been fulfilled by Sugata in a previous meeting with him at the Eastern Shrine. She has nothing left to lose. Everything goes dark and all of the swirling Zero Time psychedelia we’re used to changes with frightening speed and permanence.

For the island and its ordinary inhabitants, this is very bad news. With only one seal left to break (Wako) and the means to do it (Head has a new cybody, and who knows what Sugata will do with his new phase), the resultant shockwave will probably destroy the island with a combination of earthquakes, tsunami, and erupting volcanoes. Crux has been striving so long to break the seals, one wonders if any of them have cold feet, or if its simply too late to turn back. Kanako for one exhibits sympathy for the “civvies” by having her massive yacht (it’s a cruise ship, really) prepared to take on evacuees.

With that in mind, and after so many generations of the maidens maintaining balance, breaking all their seals and unleashing that power will likely have global, and not just local, implications. Takuto has won every single fight he’s fought in as Tauburn. Many were victories pulled from the jaws of defeat; victories that would not have occurred had outside forces not acted on Takuto’s behalf. Now that he’s essentially the only thing keeping Wako safe, he’ll have to win one more battle, and it will be the toughest. Rating: 3.5

Bakuman 24

The excitement continues to snowball as Niizuma’s original prediction comes true: there’s a tie for first place in the Golden Future Cup, between Ashirogi and Fukuda. Koogy’s grin at the end of last week was a red herring; he lost out big, finishing fourth in the running. I suppose some of his fans didn’t want to be seen picking up a copy of Jack; either that, or they simply didn’t show up to vote in the numbers he’d hoped for. It would have been easy, lazy even, for Koogy to win, but thankfully they didn’t go down that road. Still, he’s down, but not out; I wouldn’t rule out him showing up sometime in the future, even if it’s next season (I haven’t read the manga, so I don’t know). If he’s sincere about “changing manga” being his dream, that is.

Anyway, Aoki and Nakai’s manga got third place. Predictably Aoki doesn’t flinch at the news, and Nakai would have been happy anywhere but last. In any case, the three manga will move forward for another round to determine which will be serialized. The results, rather than bumming everyone out, seems to have reinvigorated and energized them to a man (or woman, in Aoki’s case). Jack has a difficult job on their hands: all three entrants in contention are good manga; even the readers couldn’t quite decide who to vote for.

News of their win garnered a response from Miho in the form of a phone call to Takagi, which marks the first time I can recall hearing her call a boy. I’m glad she got some minutes in this episode; especially her exchange with her mother proves how dedicated she is to Mashiro, and how resolved she is to properly wait like they promised. These two lovebirds must be kept apart for them to be productive. After all, if the prospect of Miho on the other line petrifies Mashiro (Miho bails him out by hanging up), imagine what having her hanging around the studio will do to his work ethic? Rating: 4