Violet Evergarden – 06

Violet Evergarden is not content to keep its titular character holed up at C.H. Postal, which I feel works to the show’s advantage. This episode in particular introduces Justitia Province, a fresh and fascinating new locale where she and 79 other Dolls have been summoned.

There, Violet takes an aerial tramway above the clouds to a vast observatory dramatically perched high atop a mountain. There, the 80dolls are paired off with 80 men from the Manuscript Department to undertake a massive effort to transcribe old books that are on their last legs.

It’s unlike any other mission Violet has undertaken, and one would think the impersonal nature of transcribing old books would not afford her the same insight into love and other human emotions as, say, writing letters for a client.

However, it’s all about who she meets there, and that’s Leon Stephanotis, whom we learn right at the outset harbors an inherent distrust for all Auto Memory Dolls, believing it “a profession full of women who hope to one day marry into money.”

While there may well be Dolls with that goal, it hardly seems proper to lump them all into one category, and Leon learns this firsthand immediately upon meeting Violet, who is, as we know, neither a normal Doll nor a normal woman.

Leon is fairly chilly to Violet, but the fact that Violet doesn’t react like he is throws him off. She doesn’t regard his conduct as particularly chilly, just efficient, and if there’s one quality one could be used to describe Violet, it’s efficient…when it comes to taking dictation, not sorting through her feelings for the Major.

The night after they do three day’s work of work in one, Leon asks why Violet is a Doll, and she says, simply, because “it is a role I can fulfill”, expressing her gratitude that she can do such a wonderful job, while questioning if she deserves it—no doubt the words of Gilbert’s brother weigh on her, even if she has nothing to apologize for.

When other scribes ask Violet whether it’s trying working with an annoying guy like Leon, who is a penniless orphan only there because of donations. Violet sets the lads straight by saying she’s not a person who has lived the kind of “proper life” they’re assuming; she’s also an orphan, never laid eyes on her parents, and only recently learned to read and write, further warning them that if one’s birth or upbringing is such an important requisite for being able to speak to someone, they should stay away from her.

Leon overhears her defense of him, but it was never meant to be a defense; just the facts. But regardless of her intentions, he’s all but smitten with her, and does what so many other scribes must be doing with their Doll partners: he asks her if she’ll join him for the comet viewing (a comet that appears only once every 200 or so years). She agrees without hesitation, and he’s so elated he tears his baguette clean in half.

That night, before the comet reaches its most beautiful position, Leon tells Violet the story of how his father once traveled the world collecting manuscripts but went missing. Rather than stay with him, his mother, who loved his father more than anything (certainly more than him, he figured) left to find her husband, and also never returned. If love makes people such “bumbling fools” they forget the well-being of their own children, he wants nothing to do with it.

When he asks how her story goes, she tells him about the one person who cared for her, and who she cares about more than anyone else. Leon gets her to understand that what she’s feeling in the Major’s absence is, indeed, loneliness. Leon tests her, asking what she’d do if she heard the Major was alive and in need of his aid in the middle of her job there at the observatory.

He assumes she’s upset he put her on the spot, but that’s not the kind of person Violet is. She’s upset because she’d have to find some way to apologize to him, meaning yes, she’d go just as his mother went, in order to find the person she, well, loved.

It feels like a kind of gentle rejection for Leon, who might’ve thought he had found the perfect woman for him. But quoting the first manuscript they transcribed together, “That parting is not a tragedy.”

Indeed, Leon is not sad when the job is complete and Violet heads home, because being with her even for this short time didn’t just subvert his expectations about Dolls. It made him rethink and alter the course of his very life.

As Violet departs on the aerial tram (making for some very nice camera angles) Leon resolves to tour the continent as she does and as his father did, collecting manuscripts. And perhaps they’ll even meet again somewhere, under a starry sky.

Or Leo my man, you could always keep in touch by, uh, writing to her from time to time. Why leave their next encounter to such small odds…unless the show intends to reunited them. We do have a lot of show left to go…fortunately.

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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Gokukoku no Brynhildr – 06

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Lucky for Ryouta, Neko, and Kotori, the “state power” perusing them sent one of the less effective AA+ witches after them. Kikako moves and acts almost comically slow, giving them any number of opportunities to get the upper hand. And I’ll admit I’d forgotten about Kotori’s teleportation ability, and the fact enough time had passed that she’d no longer be hung up.

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Ryouta has a plan, but it depended entirely on two factors he couldn’t control: that Kikako would take her sweet old time firing her mouth cannon at Neko once she had her pinned to the ground (seriously, that was way too long!), and he just happened to flag down Kotori. I did like how Kotori’s determination to smile rather than cry gave the impression she was Neko’s killer in Kana’s vision.

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I initially thought the whole episode would be dealing with Mikako, but like I said, once Ryouta realized he could use Kotori’s power, things were pretty well in hand. And oh, hey, it wouldn’t be an episode of Brynhildr if scenes of girls bleeding from their eyes and having their hands and feet sloughed off weren’t followed by a random scenes of goofy fanservice! Because as we all know, when it gets hot, girls take their tops off. There’s a wealth of rap music confirming this very phenomenon.

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Having survived Mikako (who’ll be “severely punished” for failing), Ryouta all of a sudden remembers a relative of his is an accomplished scientist at a po-dunk university (probably so he can get away with more shit). I initially thought he was that evil scientist dude we already know in disguise, and the close-up of his rather crazed eye at the end suggests he isn’t anyone to be trusted, regardless. But with the pill supply running out, Ryouta and the girls’ options are few.

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Stray Observations:

  • Mikako is far more dangerous from long range, as evidenced from Shino’s demise.
  • Shouldn’t Ryouta have brought up his scientist uncle way back when the pill thing became an issue?
  • I can’t help but be constantly distracted by the over-convenient fact that Ryouta has an entire observatory at his disposal, no questions asked, where not another soul ever comes by, with access to a barbecue and hot spring. From those perks alone, there should be a lot more astronomy club members.
  • Where the heck did Neko get that blender? Where’d she plug it in? How is she dealing with Kana’s bed sores? The show doesn’t care about these details, so I guess I shouldn’t, either…

Gokukoku no Brynhildr – 05

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Brynhildr does not have an auspicious cold open, consisting of a pointless comparison between the girls boob sizes. After the OP Kazumi starts sexily teasing Ryouta again. Then something unexpected happens: Ryouta actually calls her out on it. I for one appreciated the show acknowledging the fact Kazumi was trying way too hard.

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Kazumi’s response is telling: she tries her hardest at everything; including, er…romance, apparently. Ryouta, meanwhile, has something less romantic in store for his new club-mates: a stargazing party. Sure, the girls are being hunted, and will eventually run out of life-giving pills again, but that’s all the more reason to live their lives to the fullest, while they still have them.

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The trip is a success, with everyone getting way more into the astronomy than they thought (even Kazumi), right until Kana starts having visions: first of newbie Kotori standing over a dead Neko, then of a dead Ryouta. Meanwhile, another B-rank witch Shino is on the run from an AA+ named Kikako (looking like a character out of Kill la Kill), and Neko insists on helping, out of loyalty to B-rankers.

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Kotori is the one everyone suspects of being the murderer, but Kana doesn’t actually see her killing anyone, suggesting Kikako is the true culprit. Shino doesn’t last long against Kikako’s huge mouth-cannon, and since Neko gave away their position, either she or Ryouta will be the next targets, if they don’t find a way to change Kana’s predictions.

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Gokukoku no Brynhildr – 04

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Brynhildr continues to suffer from a highly erratic tone that shifts jarringly from one scene to the next, to the point where it even seems to be confusing the characters. To whit: Ryouta stabs Saori in the heart like it’s the most natural thing in the world for an ordinary high school student to do. After Saori hangs up and is ejected, turning into a mass of organic goop, revealing a horrifying-looking parasite, only then does Ryouta react viscerally, stomping it out like a bug.

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Ryouta has gotten mixed up in some extremely awful, bloody, amoral, supernatural shit…but aside from that one little yelp, he doesn’t seem the least bit traumatized by what he’s seen and done. The episode’s attempts to lighten the mood with some fanservice-laced mixed onsen nonsense and domestic issues fail, because the gap between the two moods is too wide. The show yanked me from unspeakable horrors to oppai-grabs with whiplash-inducing speed.

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Mix two tones on the exact opposite moods too carelessly, and they’ll compromise each other, resulting in an impotent neutral mood, or just outright confusion. As it stands, it feels like two different shows in one, both of which would be better if the opposing tone was removed. I’m more interested in Ryouta’s resolute leap into the dark, messed-up world of the lab girls, not a half-assed high school harem. Here’s hoping new addition Takatori, an AA+ witch sent to eliminate the others, steers things more towards the former.

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Gokukoku no Brynhildr – 01

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With an odd name like “Brynhildr” in the title, I couldn’t help but to investigate, hoping the name had some significance and wasn’t just chosen because it sounds cool. And while I know my multiplication tables—I got a great deal on one at Ikea!—my knowledge of Germanic mythology is lacking, so I hope you’ll indulge me.

Brynhildr (one of many spellings) is a shield-maiden and valkyrie, who among other things, was condemned to live the life of a mortal woman for deciding a battle for the wrong king. Kuroha Neko is similarly a being that seems beyond mere humanity, who serves a shield for those prophesied to die, reported to her via walkie-talkie with an as-yet un-introduced character.

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Here’s hoping this isn’t just a show they made because they had a cool CGI model of an observatory telescope lying around, because I liked the mystery that started brewing in the first installment, as well as Murakami Ryouta, an academically gifted lad whose course in life has been defined by the tragic loss of his childhood friend ten years ago.

When Kuroha Neko transfers to his class (a student laughably comments that this is a “rare occurrence”…not in anime, missy!), looking just like that friend, Murakami is hit by shock and hopefulness clashing with facts and logic, but while ten years ago Kuroneko failed to show him proof that aliens existed, in the present he witnesses proof of a whole lot of other things he didn’t know existed.

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While his first meeting with Kuroha results in a slap to the face (you just don’t demand a girl show you her armpits, especially in the middle of class!), their second meeting at the observatory is much more pleasant and cordial, even though it only deepens the mystery of who or what Kuroha is. I enjoyed the subtle and often funny escalation of strangeness, from her apparent ignorance of times tables to strength that should be impossible with such “squishy” arms (Ryota’s term, not mine).

After this episode presented its case to me, a lot of questions popped up in my head about what’s going on and where it’s all headed, meaning the mystery was intriguing enough to hold my interest. As I’d expected, it’s also a very nice-looking show with crisp character designs reminiscent of Red Data Girl. Humor is present and fanservice is retrained; both pluses. I’m looking forward to dancing in the darkness with this shieldmaiden/honor student duo.

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