The World God Only Knows II 7

Well, I called it, but it was pretty obvious Chihiro was going to come around and fall for Keima. The early scenes with Chihiro before going to bed, waking up, and going to school are nicely done; just nice, calm, quiet scenes that don’t need any embellishment. The fact that Keima is listed in her phone as “dweeb” is also a nice touch.

Keima’s initial thickheadedness is a little frustrating, but as he’s gone virtually the entire series declaring, almost with a sense of strange pride, that he doesn’t get real girls. When she decides not to confess to Yuta – out of affection for him, he reacts entirely the wrong way and sends her running after a tearful confession of her ordinary-ness. Fortunately, he soon realizes the error of his ways and gives chase, remembering the overarching mission – to relieve Chihiro of the loose soul.

She’s still upset, but her main issue is, she’s allowing external forces decide for her who she is, what she’s capable of, and how to live her life. Keima has always rejected the real world’s conventions while never betraying his own self. After a motivational speech, a well-timed cloudbreak, and a kiss, Chihiro’s loose soul is history, and while her memory of falling in love with Keima goes with it, the Chihiro that remains vows to take charge of her life and not be limited by self-doubt. Rating: 3.5

Sket Dance 7

This week Sket Dance crosses over with The World God Only Knows to fill the holes in a couple’s hearts! J/k, but the gang is on a mission to, well, if not reunite two soul mates, at least get them to catch a look at each other in passing. A large, burly man named Tetsu comes to the Sket-dan with a skeptical attitude, but after telling a tear-jerking story of his lost love and the guilt he lives with, Bossun, Himeko, and Switch take the job.

Some words about Tetsu: he looks at least thirty-five years old. I understand that some kids look older than their age, but this is ridiculous. If the animators were trying to be funny by casting an adult-looking high school character, they failed; it isn’t funny; it’s stupid. Same with the Samurai guy, he’s not a kid; he’s an adult; I call ’em like I see ’em. It calls into question the animators’ ability to actually draw a diverse array of high schoolers correctly. In short, Tetsu is too big and old-looking, and that definitely made it hard to take him seriously.

With that out of the way, I did like Tetsu’s reluctance to confront his frail true love, Misaki, after what happened in the past (he was careless, she went in a river and almost died) I really enjoyed Bossun cleaning up a bit and going undercover to meet her. But it was clear pretty early that Misaki knew Tetsu, not, Bossun was really her pen pal. The farewell of Tetsu running along the riverbank chasing the train in a cloud of paper sakura petals was definitely cheesy, but Sket-dan accomplished their mission: I believe Tetsu got the catharsis he wanted, and he was able to shout encouraging words at Misaki as she left for an operation in America. Rating: 3

Fractale 7

Fractale deliverd perhaps its most visually dazzling episode yet by dropping Clain, Nessa, and us smack-dab in the middle of Fractale Central: the city of Xanadu. It’s huge, vibrant, and futuristic, but it’s also fake and empty; Clain is the only human there; the rest are doppels – and much of the city’s structure is just 3D projections. It’s strange how one minute Clain’s snapping pics on the airship, and the next minute, he’s waking up in an extravagant, Vegas-style boudoir with an ample-busted doppel woman leaning a bit too far over him.

It’s also a bit strange that Sunda would let him and Nessa fly off on their own in the small airship…Clain did try to spring Phryne, after all, and it’s not like we’ve seen him taking piloting lessons. These oddities aside, the episode finally gives us a glimpse of life with Fractale on 100%, and it reminds me of that Animatrix short about the Second Renaissance, when life for humans became one long party.

Of couse, it isn’t all fun and games; people have to work to afford the privilege of maintaining a doppel in Xanadu; if they can’t they’re kicked out of town. For one brief moment it seemed as though there might be good people here (or at least doppels controlled by good people) but alas, eveyrone Clain encountered there was looking out for themselves, and knowing Clain and Nessa are wanted, tried to work it to their advantage.

Their schemes are thwarted when Nessa shows off her power to totally knock out Fractale at will, but Clain still gets shot. Wasn’t expecting that, but I think we know the answer to the question, “is he dead?”. There are four more episodes and he’s the boring protagonist; of course he isn’t! Rating: 3.5

wawawa….go sleep

Tokyo Trip Journal 7

10 June, Heisei 22 (Thurs)

This morning heralded in a clear, warm, sunny, and absolutely perfect day to visit Tokyo’s waterfront district, a reclaimed “Inner Harbor/Harbor East”-like area known as Odaiba. The ruby Uedo. line took me form Shinjuku to Shiodome, and then I only needed to hop on the Yurikamome monorail to take me across the part of Tokyo Bay to Odaiba. As I write this I am enjoying a Georgia Iced Latter (a Coca-Cola product) with the Rainbow Bridge across the bay from me, Tokyo Tower and Roppongi Hills visible behind it in the distance, the eccentric Fuji TV Building at my back, and, oddly enough, a third-scale but otherwise exact replica of the Statue of Liberty to the right.

Odaiba is also home to Toyota Mega Web, the largest Toyota auto salon in the country, but less stylish than the one in Ikebukuro. It is also home to a gallery of automotive history, containing some real gems I had not had a good look at in the flesh before (E-Type, De Lorean, Isetta, Spider, Mustang, Biarritz, etc., along with some notable specimens from Toyota’s storied racing history. At least at the hour I was there, I was apparently the only one interested. From Aomi I dashed to the next station to get an up-close look at Tokyo Big Sight, described as either an upside-down version of the Pyramid building from Blade Runner, or your average convention center flipped upside down and suspended on stilts. It is an insane piece of architecture, very sci-fi. Btw, each monorail station has a unique color and pattern decoration derived from Japanese art and design history. What significance this holds alludes me at this time, but its still neat, and I appreciate the attention to detail, as always.

After sightseeing in Odaiba, I finished the Yurikamome monorail loop to get my 800 yen’s worth, ending at Toyosu station on the Yurakucho line, which conveniently connected to Sakuradamon, on the side of the Imperial Palace grounds I hadn’t been to yet. First I took a quick look at the National Diet building, a handsome structure combining elements of Japanese and Art Deco architecture.

The gardens and plazas surrounding the palace moat were gorgeous and impeccably tended. I wondered what life was like up there on the raised stone ramparts, and whether the Emporer ever walked along its perimeter, gazing out onto the modern city beyond his moat. I had to wonder, because you cannot see much; the main gate was firmly closed and under heavy guard, and the one of the only good views in, while picturesque, still didn’t allow visual access to the palace residences themselves. No biggie though, it was cool just to get as close as I did.

Hungry, i went east to the modern city to find a place for lunch. I found one in “Banri”, another no-nonsense value-for-money place, where I stuffed myself on a miso-like stew with cured pork, mushrooms, bok choy, bamboo shoots and scallions, with excellent pork fried rice on the side. Portions at these restaurants tend to be huge, and people typically eat quite fast. I take my time cleaning my plate, again so as not to offend. Ometachi station was right next door, so I took the now very familiar red Marunouchi line to Shinjuku, where I decided to satisfy my curiosity regarding the “Toto Super Space” on the 27th floor of the Shinjuku L-Tower. The fixtures on display were quite slick…and expensive.

After a brief rest in my room and a shower, I head somewhere I haven’t been before – Ebisu – on the Hibiya line. Ebisu is apparently a diner’s haven; as soon as I emerged from the station I was assaulted by hundreds of places to eat. Choosing where to eat when there are so many good choices can be excrutiating, but I bit the bullet and chose somewhere. I’d eaten Japanese-style food essentially every night I was here, so I decided to switch it up and try out an Italian place called Palermo. They made a mean Margherita pizza.