Tiger & Bunny 8

With Lunatic running wild murdering murderers, public opinion around Sternbild is starting to sway in his favor. I mean, it’s not like he’s killing innocent people, amirite? Next to him, the heroes look a bit impotent. So Apollon Media decides to send out their heroes for some good ol’ PR. You know, rather than looking for Lunatic. They end up a Barnaby’s former school, which bears a slight resemblance to Professor Charles Xavier’s.

This series has gradually been delving deeper into various characters, obviously starting with Tiger, then Blue Rose and Bunny, and this week it’s Ivan/Origami Cyclone’s turn. I have to admit I initially found his sudden and intense self-doubt a bit strange, and I was definitely perplexed when Tiger exhibited surprise at his special power of mimicry. Haven’t these two fought together before? Mimicry is most definitely a useful superpower. It’s baffling that he hasn’t figured that out at this point in his career.

While mopey Origami wasn’t all that interesting, I like how they weaved Lunatic into the story, just when you thought he was on a break this week. Lunatic also seemed a lot less invincible than last week, as Tiger was able to soar into the sky and smash his mask. We even see him sans mask…what a girly man! Another plus: not all NEXTs have powers that are well-suited for heroism. Some are seemingly just circus freaks. Then again, Fantastic Four and X-Men made it work…Rating: 3

Fractale 8

We learned many things this week. Nessa, or rather, the Nessas, are really younger versions of Phryne. Phryne was some kind of experiment that failed, but her father is trying to salvage her. Her father is also an all-around evil dude and skeezy perv who will watch her undergo a gynecological examination. Sunda and Co. team up with Dias to rescue them, though Dias seems more inclined to blow up the temple without regard to rescuing anyone.

After Clain saw how corrupt and morally bankrupt society can get living under a fully-operational and immersive Fractale system, he now sees its even more unseemly underbelly, where the powers that be play god, tinkering with flesh-and-blood humans like, well, tinker-toys. After these past two weeks of expose, I can safely say I wouldn’t want to live my life overdependent on or over-immersed in the Fractale system. Especially after meeting Clain, Phryne wants nothing to frikkin’ do with it anymore.

That said, I know that the life I enjoy, one of freedom and opportunity, has been made so by quite a lot of war, and that big societies like ours have their dark but apparently necessary sides to protect their values and interests. But Fractale goes too far. It is authoritarianism and subjugation under a thin veneer of simulated bliss. Futuristic Nazism, complete with human experimentation. In true Ghibliesque form, Fractale is presenting us with some dark stuff without losing its overall optimistic vision. Rating: 3.5

Kimi ni Todoke 2nd Season 8

For some reason, parts of this episode felt like a recap, but despite this, or rather because of the revisiting of encounters Sadako (sorry, Sawako) has had regarding her relationship (or lack thereof), she seems to finally turn a corner. By episode’s end (a cliffhanger, dammit), it seems she may end up the one to reach out to Kazehaya, not the other way round.

The episode is titled “I don’t care anymore”, which is what Sadako proclaims after school – somewhat confusing her friends – but also signaling something may have finally clicked that will end this excruciating situation for her and Kazehaya. She isn’t going to worry about being selfish or embarrassed or making the wrong impression or causing a misunderstanding.

She knows what she wants, and always has, and the only way to get it is to move beyond all that. Here’s hoping she does…it’s about frikkin’ time. Rating: 3.5

Level E 8

Level E switches gears from the Color Rangers to a new and potentially more dangerous scenario: an alien princess has come to earth to find a human mate. Only problem is, when she finds one and they reproduce, a virus will be transmitted which will quickly spread to all males, rendering them sterile and eventually rendering the human race extinct.

Craft and his two underlings must ensure this doesn’t happen (Prince is in the jungle somewhere, watching bugs mate for some reason…that in and of itself is funny). So Craft meets her in a remote and isolated winter resort. What he wasn’t counting on: a guy who was just turned down by a friend he wanted to be more than a friend with meeting eyes with the princess. It’s love at first sight, and the shounen won’t let anyone come between their love. That can only mean one thing: SNOWMOBILE CHASE!!! Wait, what? Okay, sure, why not?

The romance is a problem for Craft, because he’s part of the Earth Defense Force, and if he doesn’t defend the smitten kid from the cute and innocent foreign princesss, humanity is doomed. His attempts to dissuade both of them throughout the episode are as ineffective as they are hilarious. I imagine if there was ever a Men In Black anime, it would be something like Level E: interesting missions in which the world is always on the line, but the show is never too stern or serious about it. Rating: 3.5

Tokyo Trip Journal 8

11 June, Heisei 22 (Fri)

So the final day arrives. Check-out is a 10 AM but I’m packed and ready to go, giving myself time to soak up a few parting shots of this weird, gorgeous, kinetic city before taking the N’EX to Narita and back to America. I had grown accustomed to this place, and shall miss it for sure.

Here I am, at 2 PM waiting to be bourne to Houston George Bush Airport, to wait another 3-4 hours for my flight back to Philly. Not looking forward to either flight, but I am excited to be heading home. Next week is supposed to be grey and rainy in Tokyo, and I hate days like that, so I think this is as good a time as any to depart, for now. My timing was perfect, as this past week had a couple real gems of nice days. Whatever the weather, I know for certain I’ll be back as soon as I can. After all, I now know Shinjuku and much of theToei and Tokyo Metro lines like the back of my hand (sort of) and in a month, there’ll be a faster means from the airport than even the N’EX, knocking a half-hour off the travel time from the airport to Tokyo. My main mistake was walking around too much too soon, and the resulting soreness and pain i experienced could have been avoided with better preparation (and sturdier shoes.)

Still, I never got really lost (or more lost than I wanted to be) or robbed or got into a fight or cultural misunderstanding, and didn’t sprain or pull anything, and saw most of central Tokyo, including everything/where I wanted to see, had some local cuisine, and had a decent hotel room, if unflashy. I feel like I got my money’s worth and didn’t spend too much in the world’s second-most expensive city to live in. Overall, I’ll call this trip a success!