Inuyashiki – 11 (Fin)

Early in this final episode, I was deathly afraid Hiro would somehow repair himself and pay Ichirou and his family a visit, and there would be no way Ichirou would be able to fight Hiro off and save his family; indeed, they’d likely be part of the ample collateral damage of such a fight.

That fear was only amplified when Ichirou showed his entire family the machinery within him, confessing to them that he might not be their Ichirou, but a fake. When his wife asks him to describe their honeymoon, he recalls every detail with such emotion both she and Mari end up bawling and embracing him…of course he’s their Ichirou. Only his son stays away, still understandably weary of this shocking news.

As for Hiro, his arms aren’t coming back, and he seems to have given up on destroying Japan. He shows up in Andou’s room to read the latest Jump, but Andou can’t allow the charade to go on, and calls Ichirou. Hiro splits before he arrives, and later watches Shion and her grandmother from afar, not daring to get too close lest his awfulness infect them any further. Hiro is also constantly hearing desperate cries for him to just effing die already for all the horrendous shit he’s done. He’s not in a good place.

As for Ichirou, honesty proves to be the best policy, as his family quickly embraces him (I love how his office didn’t even acknowledge him as the healing god on TV). He takes the fam out to eat and they take a riverside stroll afterward, in a wonderful display of family camaraderie.

In an earlier talk with his boy while walking home, Ichirou tells him how death makes life precious, and that now that he’s a machine he realizes he took being human for granted.  Even so, you can’t deny his family is being a lot nicer to him now that he’s a machine, when before, only his dog Hanako seemed to care whether he lived or died.

At the same time, perhaps they weren’t ever as disdainful as the earlier episodes depicted; maybe we were just seeing things from Ichirou’s woe-is-me perspective. It wasn’t as if he was the only member of his family feeling underappreciated or downtrodden.

In any case, that odd ominous sense of finality to the family interactions is explained by President Donald Trump of all people on the TV: Remember that Giant Asteroid? It’s still headed to Earth, where it’s expected to wipe out all life in three days. Trump basically tells the losers of the world to pound sand; he has no regrets about his life.

Such a comforting voice in trying times, is the Trumpster’s. A good chunk of the masses respond by engaging in widespread illegal activity. Something has to be done, and we know who needs to do it.

While I know the asteroid has been mentioned for some time, the shift from the Ichirou-Hiro conflict to Stopping the Asteroidocalypse still feels very sudden, and once this episode ended, I felt a bit like an entire arc had been awkwardly squeezed into one episode.

That being said, the execution, while hasty, still made an impact, what with Mari’s tearful farewell of her father (who promises he’ll be back) and the gorgeous shots of Ichirou floating around space. Unfortunately, even his formidable arsenal is ineffective at altering the asteroid’s course.

Enter Hiro, who followed Ichirou into space, and who believes the course will shift if he self-detonates on the asteroid’s surface. As horrible as he is, Hiro doesn’t want Andou or Shion to die, so like Ichirou, he’ll do all he can to stop that from happening.

When the night sky turns to day for a few minutes, both Andou and Shion seems to sense their friend is gone. For all the hundreds of people he killed in various awful ways (and if looking at things dispassionately), sacrificing himself to save the entire population of earth seems like a sufficient means of redemption.

It’s too bad then, that Hiro alone can’t save earth; he only blew up part of the asteroid; to finish it, Ichirou has to blow himself up as well. While I’m sure he didn’t like breaking his promise to Mari, he’d have liked her being incinerated by a meteor even less.

Also neither Ichirou nor Hiro in their current states were anything that should have been anywhere near humanity; they were simply too powerful, on both the good and bad side of things. They should have died when that alien ship squashed them. Turns out they got some bonus time, but now that time has ended.

The simple, quiet epilogue of Mari learning her manga won the competition in Jump (to Andou’s surprise as well) is the product of Ichirou lovingly supporting his daughter’s creative dreams, and earning back her respect and affection in return. No doubt the next work she publishes will be dedicated to her father’s memory.

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Re:Creators – 04

(For this week’s Re:C I’m filling in for Franklin, who is currently battling a bit of a backlog in both inbox and anime queue. Ganbatte, Oigakkosan! —Hannah)

After learning her creator died in an auto accident, a rudderless Meteora does a fair amount of soul-searching, starting by purchasing the game she’s in and playing it all the way to the end, in an effort to both learn more about herself and the person who created her, in hopes that information will help her make an informed decision about what to do next.

She painstakingly reports all of this to the others, as well as presents her hypothesis about this world only being able to take so many “translations” of creations before it crumbles under the weight of all the “contradictions.” For the fourth straight episode, this involves Meteora talking and explaining in a measured tone for an extended period of time—until the sun sets outside, in fact.

And while it does manage to hit some emotional beats towards the end—basically, she likes her creator, his creation, and wants to fight to get everything back to the way it was—it once more expose’s this show using such scenes as a crutch to keep the audience appraised. It’s too much tell and not enough show.

The chatting continues in a dark warehouse, where the onna-kishi Alicetelia has captured her creator and forced him to revise her world so there isn’t so much dang war, only for it not to work. The Military Uniform Princess assures her that this is an our worlds-vs.-their world situation, she’s leading the revolt, and could use able warriors like Alice.

We meet Beardy, who like Yuuya is content to have fun in this world for a time, and not in a rush to return to his world. Mamika also softens “Alice-chan’s” character somewhat by questioning rash side-taking, especially with people like the MUP, while tucking into boil-in-the-bag curry, the package of which bears Mamika’s likeness.

One of Matsubara’s fellow creators then calls him, informing him that one of his creations—a young mecha pilot—has suddenly appeared, along with his mecha, who on the surface looks like he’d be on Team Celestia/Meteora. That leaves just one more main creation from the promo art and OP to introduce: the Oushino Ougi-esque Chikujouin Makagami, who looks more like Team MUP.

As this is a 22-episode run, it’s not unusual to not have all the main players introduced after four episodes. But there remains a sluggishness and a feeling that we’re not seeing as much of the potential of this premise as we could, and are instead hearing a whole lot about it from static characters as other characters sit around in rooms listening.

To be blunt, I’m eager for Re:Creators to get out of those rooms and start kicking some ass out in the world. With the lines starting to be drawn among the creations according to how they want to proceed, hopefully we’ll get more actual confrontations soon.

GOD EATER – 08

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I must say, it’s rough having to wait an extra week for every other episode (now I know what Preston went through with Sailor Moon Crystal), but of late, when GOD EATER deigns to air, I can be confident there will be good stuff in store. Alisa is holed up in her messy quarters, apparently continuing to suffer withdrawal from the pills that have always neutralized her fear, which come with a different fear of ever being without them, as she was the last few episodes. With Lenka’s God Arc in need of repairs, both he and Alisa are on leave,  leaving Fenrir Far East shorthanded on the eve of a big operation.

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Professor Sasaki, the father of the God Arcs, arrives, and is shocked that Lenka’s Arc broke; something that’s never happened. Not getting any further answers out of the weapon, he and Licca turns to Lenka himself. Meanwhile, the active part of Unit One joins with Unit Two on an operation at a baseball stadium, led by Sakuya, as Lindow is sent on another mysterious solo mission.

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Shortly after engaging the Aragami, the baseball field crumbles beneath their feet, sending the Eaters underground. Lenka, who has been encouraged to observe the op from the Command Information Center where Major Amamiya spends her days, and it isn’t long before he suggests a course of action contrary to her orders, angering her.

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However, when the Eaters underground follow his suggestions and things turn out for the best, with them bottle-necking the Aragami in a narrow corridor and mopping them up with a pincer attack, Lenka is ultimately absolved rather than punished for speaking out of turn. The successful mission, with everyone returning and praising Lenka for saving them (even Soma, in his way), shows Lenka has value as both a front-line fighter or, if he doesn’t have a God Arc, commanding them from behind.

That’s good to know, because his days as a front-line fighter with a God Arc are uncertain, at best. Sasaki determines he, not the Black Vajra, broke his own God Arc, when his compatibility spiked to a level it couldn’t handle. Sasaki also informs him that this condition also threatens Lenka’s life and will eventually kill him.

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Undergoing psychiatric treatment (i.e., talking to a professional), Alisa realizes if she’s ever going to get back in the fight—and her services are desperately needed—she has to rid herself of her fear, and begs the doctor help make that happen, not matter what the cost. I don’t doubt whatever is done to her will not only affect the personality of the woman we’ve come to know and feel for, but threaten her life, as Lenka’s compatibility threatens his.

As the two most valuable New-Types struggle with their problems, Director Shicksal announces a new strategy for eliminating the Aragami from the immediate vacinity in order to allow work on Aegis. It involves controlling their movements, sorting them by species, and sending God Eaters who specialize in each species to take them out. It sounds like a daring plan, but I’m almost certain it won’t go smoothly, because that’s just not how things tend to go on this show.

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Last but not least (for once), we have another dark flashback, this time to the very evening the Aragami Apocalypse occurs. I was not prepared for how total and unyielding the transformation of the world was, with giant towers of oracle cells jutting out of the earth, dwarfing, piercing, and crumbling all works of mankind like so many sand castles. I was also moved by the last shots of a tranquil world at night before all hell breaks loose.

Schicksal, Sasaki, And Gauche were working feverishly until the end, but losing government support torpedoed their chances of coming up with a solution in time to stop the calamity that befell the earth. It’s looking more and more like mankind’s worst enemy in this whole dark business has been…mankind.

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Space Dandy 2 – 03

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“Oh shut up. If we have this, we could do this and that, and then that’ll happen, and we’ll be able to eat as much as we want.”

This is Dandy’s defense this after Meow scolds him for buying a sketchy teleporting flashlight instead of food because the lady who sold it to him was hot. It also serves as a tidy and prescient synopsis for their adventures to come, which are many in number and absolutely insane in nature. Seriously, there hasn’t been a Dandy this free-wheelingly, awesomely nutty in quite a while, and yet it all holds together quite nicely when you remember Dandy’s above line.

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Essentially, the episode is a treatise on the merits of another one of Dandy’s lines, and the title of the episode itself: “Good things come to those who wait [baby].” That applies as much to us the audience as it does Dandy, Meow, and QT, as the episode is deliberately roundabout and baroque in its storytelling, and initially quite head-scratching and surreal. For a few minutes there, we had no idea what was going on. Like Dandy’s head, we were just…watching a fish set up an umbrella and beach towel.

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From the first scene at the space mall that accentuated the crippling amount of choice was available to Dandy and Meow to the “fistronaut’s” futuristic underground city, this was also one of the more detail and vista-packed episodes of Dandy in a while, though all of its episodes are pretty intricate. The episode also had fun with physics, astronomy, and relativity, and dished out some very painterly, lyrical animation for the boat trip up the water column from Planet Pushy Boyfriend to Planet Girlfriend. Even those random names describe the planets pretty well in their way.

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There are a lot of familiar Dandyisms on display here: from Meow’s hunger leading to crazy adventures, to Dandy snatching perceptiveness out of the jaws of ignorance, to Dr. Gel almost capturing Dandy, to a hastily-told but intricate look into the worlds orbiting one of the countless stars in space. Dandy and Meow also witness a couple more ends: both the end of the short-sighted civilization of arrogant, mean-spirited, clothed fish, to the fishtronaut himself, who turns into grilled fish that is the food Dandy promised the flashlight would ultimately provide.

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Also like many other Dandy episodes, this one has high re-watch value, though there’s nothing like being blissfully in the dark and wondering precisely how (or if) the show is going to divine a coherent resolution from all the colorful chaos. And no show airing now is quite as good at bending my minds and making me hungry at the same time. If you’ll excuse me, I’m going to attempt to locate some grilled fish. The more interesting the life they’ve lived, the tastier they are.

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Kabukimonogatari – 03

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Koyomi and Shinobu return to the present to find it in ruins, and the last newspaper reads June 15th. They’re unable to use the shrine to travel through time, and are surrounded by zombies. They retreat into the sky and wait for the dawn, then return to Koyomi’s home. Shinobu deduces that saving Mayoi meant Koyomi never met her.

As a result, Black Hanekawa killed him, and he never retrieved Shinobu after she ran away. Released from his servitude, Shinobu’s full power was unleashed and she turned the entire world into vampires before committing suicide, turning them into zombies. After lighting fireworks in hopes of luring survivors, they are again surrounded by zombies.

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Upon first laying eyes on the bleak, lifeless, eerily beautiful new world Koyomi and Shinobu created by saving Mayoi, our first thought was that we’d want to leave as quickly as possible. Besides being straight up creepy and full of friggin’ vampire zombies, we’d also feel a crushing depression from the knowledge that this just wasn’t right and it was our fault, which would negate any possible appeal of having the world – and Costco! – all to ourselves.

Then Koyomi and Shinobu do try to leave almost immediately, back to the past where they can possibly fix this, and…they can’t. Another crushing sensation; they’re stuck there, indefinitely. But we won’t be too pessimistic. The night’s always darkest before the dawn; a gorgeous dawn we see when Shinobu launches into the sky with Koyomi, which along with the fireworks show brings some life back into this ruined world they simply must restore.

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Rating: 8 
(Great)

Guilty Crown – 22 (Fin)

Shu is moments too late to save Inori, and the newly awakened Mana’s dance begins the fourth apocalypse, as countless people around the world become consumed by crystal. Using his friends’ voids, Shu duels with Gai, but is disarmed and struck down. Just when all hope is lost, Inori calls to him from a crystal flower, and he draws her back out. Her song dissolves the crystal all over the world.

As GHQ headquarters collapses around them, Shu stabs Gai, and the two cross over to the Naath Utopia, which lies beyond the apocalypse. Gai tells him the only way for Mana to be put to rest is by letting her finish her role. Shu returns to the real world, where Inori is almost totally encased with crystal, and eventually disintigrates. Together, theyabsorb the last remnants of the apocalypse virus. Years later, the world is back to normal, Shu survived, and he still pines for his lost love.

Well, it was quite a ride, but all things must end, and end Guilty Crown did. It wasn’t the best ending ever but at least we pretty much knew what was going on, and no last-minute twists or contrivances came out of left field. There was naturally the final boss battle, where Gai who claimed Mana while Shu dug down deep and called upon the power of Inori. Gai was redeemed, as he says in the end he did what he did hoping Shu would come stop him, and he did.

We really dug the new music saved for this finale, including a pretty badass remix of the first ending theme. But we do feel ourselves hard-pressed to offer more than faint praise for this last episode. To be perfectly honest, the trio of sci-fi shows that came around in January (Aquarion, Moretsu and Lagrange) have caused our interest in Guilty Crown to wane. In that sense, it’s a good thing the series is over.


Rating: 3

Guilty Crown – 11

With the apocalypse virus running rampant across the city and the Undertakers pinned at GHQ headquarters, Shu is racked with guilt, but Hare and Tsugumi snap him out of it. He gathers his classmates together and gives them the skinny on how he can draw out voids, how he drew theirs out before, and how he needs their help to save the Undertakers, who gave him the chance to be “someone who matters.” They storm GHQ while Inori sings a song that cures the city, but when Shu reunites with her, a pocket in space opens and a mysterious person draws out her void and nearly kills him, but Gai takes the blow.

The finale to Guilty Crown’s first half pulls out all the stops, and we mean all of them: we were reminded of such epicness as Macross Frontier (the last series we watched in which a songstress played a vital role) and Evangelion (what with all the apocalyptic sky-scorching, big bad government officials, and mythic superweapons). All this goes to show that when push comes to shove, we’ve seen most everything that’s in this series; it’s shounen with a slick futuristic sheen. But just because it reminds us of stuff doesn’t mean we haven’t enjoyed just about every minute of it and are eager to see how the good ol’ cliffhanger is resolved.

Like any good stopping place, this week gave everyone some time, including all of Shu’s friends, and hell, he even confessed what he is and what he’s done to them. They took it well, and it was cool to involve them, although we somewhat doubt they’d survive being tossed around in that Humvee as much as they were. Shu’s grand to-the-rescue entrance, making use of all his friends’ voids, was particularly rousing, and even his mom lends a hand with the hacking! Shu has had a crown all this time, but he’s felt guilty about using it. But it looks like someone’s taking that crown, and he’ll have to stop that guy and save Inori.


Rating: 3.5

Guilty Crown will conclude in mid-January 2012. 

Guilty Crown – 09

Shu is on a train with Hare when Yahiro leaps aboard, spilling drugs as he goes. Shu tells Hare he needs to talk to him. He learns that Yachiro and his terminally ill brother Jun had to flee the very facility he sold Shu out to get into. Shu vows to harbor them with Undertaker help, but he’s being surveilled by Major Segai, who corners them with snipers and endlaves. Shu promises to save Jun if Yahiro lets him draw out his void, but he fails and he himself is the one who kills him. Hare, meanwhile, had been following Shu all along.

When Shu sees Jun in the void world, in the setting of the day of Lost Christmas, he has a tough choice to make. Jun wants to die, and the void Shu has appropriated from Yahiro – the shears, are the means to do it. It isn’t just that Jun is tired; it’s that he wants to go out on his terms. His illness lets him see everyone’s dark side – including his bro’s. If he has to continue to see that, he’ll grow to hate him, and he doesn’t want to die hating his only brother. Jun forces a decision here: he makes use of his apocalypse cancer to possess an endlave, so it’s basically ‘kill me before I go mad and kill everyone’.

In the heat of the moment, Shu cuts Jun’s lifeline as requested. Shu, the kid who’s growing more and more confident and assertive (and educated in basic tactics), has killed his first human being. It was under highly supernatural circumstances, but he killed someone all the same. This is going to weigh on him, and perhaps eliminate all the progress he’s made with Undertaker. We’re really interested in seeing where this goes, along with how much Hare saw, and what she thinks of it all. What’s her void?


Rating: 3