Jahy-sama wa Kujikenai! – 18 – Show-Off Always Shown Up in Showdown

With her newly-attained Magical Girl-esque powers and new light-blue threads, Saurva believes she’s perfectly prepared to finally defeat Jahy and become the new Number Two. However, she is thrown completely off her game by the fact that Jahy can’t for the life of her remember who Saurva is, beyond the girl she cheered up in the park in her child form.

Saurva, tired of being ignored and mocked, unleashes a flurry of direct strikes with her glowing golden sword, but all she manages to do is improve Jahy’s circulation, along with tickling her and giving her an itch. Shocked and pained by the fact that the bargain she made with that glowing golden being didn’t actually, Saurva runs away in embarrassment, unable to accept Jahy’s pity. She vows to defeat Jahy with her own power…later.

Little does Saurva know that the worst thing you can do to Jahy is ignore her without explanation. That’s exactly what Kokoro does when she runs from Jahy. In wallowing in frustration, Jahy reveals to the landlady that yes, she has made a friend whom she doesn’t call an underling. The manager tells Jahy to open her heart to Kokoro and they’ll be able to make up. Sure enough, Kokoro isn’t even mad at Jahy; she just has a toothache and doesn’t want Jahy to catch it.

The golden being that briefly gave Saurva the illusion of power becomes a rumor among ordinary humans like the landlady and manager, describing a ghost that asks its victims if they want power and sucking out their souls if they say or even think that they do. Jahy thinks it’s all a bunch of codswallop…though considering the things she’s done and been through, she’s not exactly the best judge of codswallop.

That said, the golden ghost—or whatever it is—confronts Jahy on her way home. She insists she doesn’t want even a smidgen of power, but the being charges towards her before she has time to transform into adult mode. Fortunately Druj swoops in and saves her, reporting to Jahy that she’s been hunting the being ever since she became aware of its existence. Jahy determines the best course is for her and Druj to join forces to defeat this thing…whose horns and voice definitely suggest it could be a form of the Demon Lord.

86 – 19 – No-Face and the Pale Rider

In a thrilling opening sequence, Nordlicht is parachuted en masse from the Nachzehrer’s hold as Lt. Col. Wenzel distracts the Legion. We hear a yelp and the last we see of the aircraft it is taking heavy fire. But Wenzel’s job was to get her troops in position to take out Morpho, and she did that job.

…That is, until it’s revealed that the damaged “Morpho” in the middle of town isn’t the Morpho, but a decoy. Rather than repaired, the active core was transferred to a spare Morpho still out of range of Shin & Co. As a result, they’re left as sitting ducks as the Real Morpho, the core of which is Kiri’s mad murderous head, fires its main railgun into the town.

All of the allied observers are wiped out, but Nordlicht manage to survive the blast. Back at the command center, the generals, who aren’t yet aware Shin and the others lived, recommend they fall back and regroup now that Nordlicht failed. Ernst says to do so would be amoral and cowardly. He adds that the people of Giad elected him to uphold a higher set of ideals, which means not abandoning the soldiers they sent in to save them.

While Ernst has Shin & Co’s back, there’s obviously something else going on with him. As Shin races to Morpho’s position, Kiri spots the headless reaper emblem and identifies Shin as a surviving member of the Nouzen Clan. Kiri wants nothing more than to destroy everything and everyone Shin knows and cares about, but his Legion superior “No-Face” orders him to stand down. When he won’t, the railgun is remotely deactivated.

It seems the Legion brass doesn’t want Shin dead…and part of me also suspects that “No-Face” is really Ernst Zimmerman. Why he’d send his nation and all other surviving nations to the brink like he is may be explained by his desire to uphold ideals humanity has abandoned. Meanwhile, on his way back to his designated district, Kiri spots a red flag and is reminded of the robe of the young Empress he once protected.

Nordlicht regroups at an abandoned forward base, remaining deep in Legion territory and preparing to pierce even deeper to finish Morpho off. Shin’s briefing is interrupted by weird sounds emanating from one of Fido’s cargo containers. Turns out Frederica stowed away to serve as the unit’s “hostage”, ensuring they upheld their duty to come back alive.

Raiden agrees to take her back to safety, and tells Frederica that there was no reason to put herself in danger; they don’t want to die and are planning not to. But as Shin told his superior during the briefing, retreating now to die tomorrow is pointless. Morpho is on the run, and pissed off by its pragmatic boss to boot. The only way everyone goes home—or even has a home—is to finish what they’ve started.

Takt Op. Destiny – 09 – New York, Old Problems

While it’s a shame they skipped Baltimore and Philadelphia, there’s definitely a sense of sudden, profound accomplishment when we see Anna’s trusty blue 70s sedan rumble down Times Square. They’ve made it! Now Destiny can get tuned and stop sapping Takt’s life and everything’s going to be okay!

The sense of having arrived at one’s destination after a long road trip (with several exciting detours) is reinforced by the fact that Anna and Cosette’s elder sister Lotte and their parents live in NYC, which means reuniting with them feels like returning home. Anna, having finally gotten Destiny and Takt to the Symphonica, deserves a rest.

Unfortunately there’s no rest for the deserving, as Lotte’s tests on Takt and Destiny bear no promising fruit. Their contract between Conductor and Musicart, while more symbiotic than parasitic, will nonetheless soon result in both dying, confirming that Takt’s corroded arm is not only permanent, but cumulative.

Lotte tells the pair that their only hope is…to not fight. If they settle down, stop hunting D2s and live normal lives, they’ll live far longer. After a full-on New York Day of food, drink, shopping, sightseeing, and aquarium-ing, Takt and Destiny get a pretty decent taste of what that life might be like. The problem is, like everyone else in the city, their lives are constantly dependent on the Symphonica’s protection.

Neither Takt nor Destiny refuse the possibility of settling down out of hand, rather its just that Destiny still can’t imagine a life without battle, which is not only her duty, but purpose. Not to mention neither of them probably like the prospect of being “intentionally useless” by letting others fight and die for their sake. They still have the power to fight, and so they’ll keep hoping that the fighting will end and they can enjoy live music in the park together.

Except…they suddenly have to leave NYC immediately and takt Anna and Cosette’s family with them, according to Lenny sounding as grim as we’ve ever heard him. When Takt assures him he’s not an “outsider”, Lenny agrees to tell Takt the truth about everything: even the infamous incident ten years ago in Boston.

It all starts with Destiny hearing another tuning fork, which means Felix was far from the only Symphonica member using the D2 to fuel his own ambitions. From that musical stab as the camera locked on Heaven’s eyes, the trouble could go all the way to the top. Do Takt and Destiny retreat with their family as Lenny urges, or remain New York, where everything is happening, to see where the cards fall?

Rating: 4/5 Stars

Takt Op. Destiny – 08 – Call Her By Her Name

Despite being worn down by a combination of sleep deprivation and Destiny, Takt makes the first move against Felix, and would have socked him in the face with a speed and force Felix didn’t expect, were it not for his trusty sadistic bodyguard, Hell, who breaks his ribs with a kick. Destiny retreats with Takt in her arms, and Hell lets them go, because killing them now won’t be as fun as waiting until they’ve recovered.

When Takt comes to (after she administers water to him with a kiss), Destiny has returned to Normal Girl Mode and made a fire, but her bandage wrapping leaves much to be desired. She acknowledges this, and her shortcomings outside of battle in general. When Takt asks why she didn’t continue fighting without him, she says when she saw him crumpled on the ground, her body moved on its own: to him, and away from the fighting.

Takt tells Destiny more about Cosette, and how now that she’s gone, there’s no one left around to hear his music he might compose. Of course, he’s wrong; not only are Anna and Destiny there, but a whole lot of people who want and need to hear his music so it can warm their hearts like the fire in the cave.

The next morning, Destiny meets Felix and Hell back in the woods with two axes and tries her best to fight. Alas, without her Musicart Mode she’s no match for Hell, who merely toys with her. Just when she’s about to be choked out, Takt arrives, and the two get into a lover’s quarrel, completely ignoring Felix. Lenny and Titan arrive to keep Felix and Hell busy while the two talk things out.

Takt asks Destiny—by name, for the first time—if she also needs to hear his song like all those other people out there. Destiny says she doesn’t simply need to; she wants to hear it. With Felix and Hell standing in the way of that, Takt tells Desinty to use as much of his life as she needs to dispatch them. And what do you know, Destiny actually takes it to Hell, overpowering her giant attack with one of her own and  burning her arm.

Hell is ready to go another round, but the fight is stopped by the ethereally calm and gentle voice of Heaven, Grand Maestro Sagan’s Musicart. Speaking for Sagan, Heaven relieves Felix of his position and fires him from the Symphonia with immediate effect.

Just like that, Hell turns her back on her former Maestro and snaps his baton, and departs with Heaven. There’s an ominous to Heaven’s presence (aided by the music that plays when she arrives) and to the fact that Felix was officially relieved for disobeying orders…not for trying to kill Takt and Destiny.

Still, it’s probably not the last we’ll see of him, and I was a little miffed Takt wasn’t able to land a punch to his smug, villainous face. But in the end I was just glad Takt and Destiny made it out of the predicament alive, and doubly glad to see them reunite with a ridiculously relieved Anna. Like Takt, she calls Destiny by her name for the first time. She lost a little sister, but now realized she gained another.

Watching Destiny evolve before our eyes with an essentially full suite of emotions, and watching Takt and Anna shed their denial and accept Destiny for Destiny, was as fun as watching Destiny, Takt, and Titan kick ass. After all this excitement, could another comparatively relaxing road trip episode be in the offing?

The Faraway Paladin – 07 – The Paladin’s First Pal

I don’t make much about it until Will mentions it, but his first night camping with Meneldor is his first such night with anyone who wasn’t Mary, Blood, or Gus. As ready as those three made him for the outside world, making connections with others would be all up to him. That said, it helps to have been raised pious, polite and amenable…it’s just that that personality initially comes off to Menel as a stuck-up, privileged rich kid.

If we’re honest, Will was a rich kid, just not monetarily. Add modesty to his virtues, as after absolutely mopping the floor with an entire ruins complex full of demons and lizardmen without breaking a sweat, he simply tells Menel he owes his ability to “having great teachers”. He does what he does so well because he was taught well.

While this episode brings Will and Menel closer together, Will’s placidness can quickly become dull in the absence of those three colorful teachers. After all, he was basically a sponge soaking up their training and life lessons. But that’s why I like the introduction of Marple, or at leas the ghost of Marple, whom the long-lived Menel met and befriended many years before when he was at one of his many nadirs.

I’d like to think Marple would have no trouble sharing some booze with Will’s parents, and if it seems that Menel hasn’t sufficiently matured for someone of his age with someone like Marple, we can chalk it up to Menel not bein explicitly raised at birth by someone of Marple’s caliber. Instead, she pulled him out of the mud and encouraged him to move forward.

Despite his many tsundere moments, by episode’s end all of Menel’s skepticism of Will has dissolved, replaced by ungrudging respect and even a bit of awe, as he decides to make Gracefeel his guardian spirit and asks Will to help him form a contract with Her. When the two go back to the village they saved to party, you can tell Menel is as happy to have befriended Will as Will is to be making his first. It is surely the first of many friends to come, as you can’t spell paladin without pal….I’ll show myself out.

Mieruko-chan – 07 – Tunnel Visions (of Horror)

Things are only getting spookier for Miko, and it’s largely Hana’s fault! When Hana’s photo gets a lot of likes on Instagram (666, to be exact) she believes it’s her calling to be a photographer, and buys a Polaroid to take more. Yulia, waiting for an opening to exact her revenge on Miko for humiliating her/choking her out, eggs Hana on by suggesting a bus trip to the mountains for some prime photo spots.

Yulia’s motivations aside, this is the first time in a long time, maybe ever, she’s gone on a trip with friends. That said, she sticks to her mission, getting Hana to enter a tunnel known to be haunted so Miko will have no choice but to admit she also sees ghosts, and deal with them. Of course, at first it’s normal stuff that gets Hana spooked: the darkness and a sudden drop of water falling on the back of her neck.

When Miko trips in the dark, then dusts off her hands, Yulia believes her rival is setting up some kind of supernatural barrier. Because of the discrepancy between the types of ghosts Yulia and Miko can see, Miko’s gestures seem to coincide with the ghosts Yulia can see shriveling up and vanishing, as if Miko exorcised them. But Yulia can’t bigger and much more horrifying monster that is devouring the ones she can see.

Yulia makes things worse by trying to get Miko to admit she can see the ghosts too, totally unaware the biggest and baddest instantly reacts to the sensation that the humans can see them. Miko has been operating under the assumption that this is, as Egon once said, “very bad”. The monster prepares to swoop down on the three girls, but is stopped and defeated by the shrine spirits, who once again protect Miko.

Hana takes Miko and Yulia’s defeated, exhausted expressions on the ride home as shared disappointment in not getting to the end of the tunnel to the photo spot. So she gathers the two close for a selfie. That ends up making Yulia’s day, as it’s established her belief in ghosts cause other classmates to ostracize her, but she’s finally found new friends.

As for Miko, she’s just trying not to overthink why some spirits protect her while others want to kill her, Hana, and now Yulia, or what one of the ones protecting her meant by “three times”. But as the preview says, things are going to get spookier before they become less spooky, so Miko will likely need all the spectral allies she can get!

Rating: 4/5 Stars

Jahy-sama wa Kujikenai! – 15 – Shokugeki no Jahy

With the Dark Lord restored and her nemesis now her pawn, Jahy wants a reward for all this progress in the form of her dear friend Kokoro’s company and praise. Unfortunately, Kyouko is still following Jahy around like a lost puppy. When Jahy takes Kokoro and runs, Kyouko assumes it’s a game of tag and chases after them with her Magical Girl Speed.

When hopes of Kyouyko being carted off by the cops are dashed, Jahy finds herself in the awkward position of having to admit that Kyouko (whose name she just learns now) is a friend. Not only that, she has to come to terms with the fact that Dear Kokoro belongs to no one, and she is biologically incapable of not becoming friends with someone.

Thus, Jahy must adjust to the fact her playdates will consist of both Kokoro and Kyouko. Yet when she heads to work looking forward to being away from her, she learns Kyouko has responded to a flyer for a part-time job, and the manager hires her on the spot. Now Kyouko is her friend and co-worker.

At first, Jahy is happy for the prospect of extra help—she’s asked for it in the past—but as expected, Kyouko is as big an accident-prone klutz serving customers as she is defeating evil as a magical girl. Jahy only salvages the situation by wowing the customers with feats of balance and dexterity…catching everything Kyouko drops.

Kyouko is discouraged when Jahy orders her to stop doing…everything and just stand back and observe, but the manager assures her it will be okay. Jahy, after all, was horrible when she first started, but as the manager has come to learn, Jahy will give something she cares about her all.

Thanks to Jahy’s diligent training, Kyouko ends up learning the ropes fast and finding her footing. It also has to help that Jahy found a tiny mana crystal in Kyouko’s hair, which must have been causing at least some of her serving mishaps.

Jahy exhibits her typical snobbishness in foisting something the manager wants help with on Kyouko, only to parkour herself over to the dining area with fork and knife in hand when she learns that something is a taste test for new menu items, starting with stewed flounder.

While Kyouko offers gourmet criticism that wouldn’t be out of place in Food Wars (and must indeed be a nod to that franchise), Jahy is more cryptic, both because she’s not so well-versed in food critic-speak, but also because she wants to use this opportunity to eat tasty food for free…which is truly the feral demoness we know and love.

As a result, Jahy is able to sample ginger pork and then cubed Wagyu steak. Eating meat revitalizes her like nothing else, as she’d become so used to bean sprouts due to her low budget. But the steak gives her a full-on Food Wars-style foodgasm, metaphorically stripping her clothes off and sending her straight to steak nirvana.

What makes all this indulgence possible are two key qualities of the manager and Kyouko: the former has been overthinking her menu so much she’s not thinking straight, while the latter is so deferent and adoring of her first and best friend that she’s not thinking straight either. In the absence of better judgment, Jahy is able to feast to her dark heart’s content.

Unfortunately someone who does have better judgment (at least when she’s not knocking back booze) arrives in the form of the landlady, who stops this charade by very clearly identifying what’s going on here (Jahy just wants food) and vetoing the choice of steak on the menu (since they’d never make a profit).

Then the Demon Lord shows up out of nowhere, drawn to the pub by some combination of her meal ticket Kyouko, Jahy’s mana crystals, and the smell of delicious food. She polishes off all the food and wants more, but Kyouko cuts her off before she can cause lasting damager to the manager’s business.

The lord is upset, but Kyouko mitigates that by promising she can have her choice of anything at the konbini on their way home. Jahy has to watch in outrage as her Demon Lord walks away hand-in-hand with Kyouko. If Jahy could out-feed her superior, she could defeat Kyouko in this fresh predicament. Alas, bean sprouts aren’t going to get it done…

Rating: 4/5 Stars

The Faraway Paladin – 06 – Warrior Priest

Will’s first episode On His Own is a good one. It starts out quiet and contemplative, as we just watch a tiny Will traverse grand vistas. He’s searching for humans, but finds only more dead cities and towns. He can always pray for bread and purify water, but he’ll soon need other things for sustenance. Sure enough, his patron saint provides—just not in a straightforward way.

The first person Will meets who isn’t Mary, Blood, or Gus is the extremely pretty half-elf Meneldor, an hunter who was pursuing the giant wild boar Will kills in self-defense. They agree to split the boar and share the liver, which spoils fastest. Whether Menel is Will’s age or much older, the two have an immediate easy rapport…right up until Menel says he wants nothing more to do with Will, and warns him not to follow.

Will was just going to follow the river to the nearest settlement, but he receives a divine vision in his dreams from Gracefeel which seems, at first, to depict Menel’s village being attacked. When Will arrives, it turns out Menel is doing the attacking. Here we see just how well-trained and ready for anything Will is thanks to his three parents, easily neutralizing all the bad actors.

Repeatedly addressed as a warrior poet by the grateful villagers, who are a collection of adventurers, bandits, fugitives and various outcasts, and thus always at each others’ throats. Their no-nonsense elder is barely keeping it together, but one thing everyone agrees on is that the half-elf and his five co-bandits should all be hanged.

Will, who wants to avoid any more killing due to the edicts of his goddess and teachings of his family, negotiates a fine compromise: the village will be compensated in gold, while Will hires Meneldor to help drive the demons out of his village. When Will proposes they just rush in and take care of it, Menel is skeptical, but again, this is Will, who we’ve already seen kill a god. Clearing the village should be a piece of cake…but that won’t make it any less fun to watch him do his parents proud. Who knows, maybe Menel will become his official first friend in the process.

Rating: 4/5 Stars

Mieruko-chan – 06 – Aw, No…Hana!

While there’s equal or greater Miko at either end, the middle of this episode is All Hana, All The Time, starting with her waking up to find her clock stopped, eating a giant stack of pancakes for breakfast, and lights flickering and going out around her. This is because one of the bigger and more grotesque ghouls to appear in Mieruko-chan is following Hana around, even using her dazzling aura as a kind of grill to sear smaller ghouls to snack on!

I love that as sinister and deadly as this monster looks, the only thing we know for sure is that he loves barbecue…that could be the only reason he’s haunting Hana! For while he gets awfully close to Hana and messes with lights and clocks around her, he doesn’t seem capable of actually hurting Hana, even when she braves a haunted abandoned building to retrieve a crying boy’s dog.

Once both boy and dog are happily home, Hana swears she’ll never put herself through something that terrifying again. And Hana didn’t actually see any ghosts! Like most people, she was simply scared of the unknown in the darkness. It’s probably for the best she can’t see what’s actually there, like Miko.

This proves especially true when Miko takes Hana to a shrine with an ulterior motive: pray to the local deity to do something about the monster still haunting Hana’s steps. While Hana soaks in the Ghibli vibes (even humming a bit of a tune from Nausicaa), Miko watches all paranormal hell break loose…or is it heaven?

Why not both? The black shadowy monster seemingly bests the two golden fox deities, only to be destroyed by what seems to be their big, big brother.

After the shadow monster is pulverized, the golden monsters converse in a strange language neither we nor Miko understand, then the larger of the three does…something to Miko while saying the one thing we do understand: “Three times,” then vanishing with a gust of wind.

Did this deity protect Miko from three future hauntings? Both we and Miko will have to wait to find out what, if anything, these deities did. All the while, Hana grabbed some sweet Insta pics that don’t even need filters!

Jahy-sama wa Kujikenai! – 14 – Second in Command, but Third to Food

Here it is: the epic battle between light and dark that Jahy has been looking forward to, but only recently become powerful enough to fight: a duel with the Magical Girl. As they fight, Kyouko says Jahy knows nothing about her, about the loneliness she’s felt, and her calling to erase all misfortune from humanity. But even when she disarms and bests Kyouko, this new Jahy tempered by human kindness and generosity stays her hand.

She’s not too proud to admit that she would never have collected the crystals she needed, or even survived in this strange new human world, were it not for the help and love of others, from Manager and Landlady to Kokoro and Druj. Kyouko being utterly alone in both her life and mission is the reason Jahy can defeat her, but also the reason she won’t: no one person should have to bear everything alone.

So thetwo make peace, and Kyouko embraces “Jahy-kun” as her first and only friend. Since she’s so rusty in social skills, her manner of trying to get Jahy to hang out borders on stalking and harrassment, but the promise of the all-important snacks finally wears Jahy down. That, and the fact she assumes Kyouko to be loaded and have a nice place.

She does not. Her house, while large and grand, is run down and “riddled with calamity”. Floors and ceilings crumble above and below even the tiny Jahy’s feet. It’s no surprise the house is in this state: this is where Kyouko has stored all of the crystals she’s amassed. One wonders how Druj’s employees dealt with the misfortune of handling and sotring industrial levels of crystals.

The epicenter of misfortune is the crystal storage room itself, which Kyouko warns Jahy has been haunted by a “shade” after dark of late. Jahy, spooked but determined to get to the bottom of this, opens the door to reveal…Maou, The Demon Lord. Jahy later explains that the mana crystals themselves represent the Demon Lord, and Kyouko must’ve simply collected enough to bring her back into being…albeit in lil’ squirt-sized form like Jahy herself.

Jahy is absolutely over the moon to reunite with her one and only superior, and Kyouko provides tea, snacks, juice, and eventually a huge spread of delivery delicacies for the celebration. Maou says nothing and only eats and drinks. Even when she eats everything, leaving Jahy nothing, Jahy is happy, as her lord was only just restored and needs her energy. There’s a little bit of Druj in Jahy’s demeanor towards Maou, in that Maou can do no wqrong in her eyes.

Kyouko has already stated that she harbored no ill will towards the Dark Realm itself, and regrets destroying it. Her journey as a magical girl began when she rescued a drowning kitty, only to fall into the water herself. Rather than dying, she was met by a bright light and a benevolent voice, that made her into a magical girl and gave her the mission to free humanity from misfortune by collection all the mana crystals.

I loved how beautiful and dramatic this sequence was, contrasted with Kyouko’s and the show’s usual goofiness. It strikes the right balance of helping us learn about and empathize with Kyouko’s own plight, while still maintaining that she is, and always will be…just a lot.

This means if the Dark Realm is going to be restored and stay restored, that mysterious voice must be identified and dealt with. In the meantime, while Kyouko wishes to dedicated every waking moment of her life to being by Jahy-kun’s side and assisting her, Jahy is content to simply go back to her home with Maou. Only…Maou doesn’t want to go with her.

On the contrary, she runs over to Kyuouko and hugs her instead! And why? Simple: Kyouko gave her food. Was that the secret to gaining the Demon Lord’s favor all along…just keeping her fed and happy, like a stray kitten? If so, it isn’t mana crystals Jahy needs, but cash to buy more delicious snacks. In this endeavor, it would probably be wise to join forces with Kyouko rather than try to compete.

The Faraway Paladin – 05 – Live Right and Die

This episode starts out with a lot. A lot of inner monologue of Will as he accelerates to the temple where he hopes he’s not too late to save Mary and Blood. For while he was able to gain the blessing of Gracefeel and hold his own against Stagnate, his lack of experience showed in his ability to be easily tricked. Then again, failure is the ultimate teacher.

It’s a very shounen-y first five minutes where everything Will is doing is explained in his head in minute detail as it’s happening. I found all the hurried narration mostly redundant and distracting, detracting rather than contributing to my immersion in the scene. But all’s well that ends well: with his training and the blessing of both Gracefeel and Mater, he defeats Stagnate.

Gus is about to break out the 200-year-old booze, and Mary and Blood try to rise from the ground, only to fall back down. With Stagnate gone, it turns out their time on this world, in this form, is up. Will doesn’t want to hear this, and thinks it’s mean and cruel to be faced with this right after killing a god, but the fact Mary and Blood are even there in physical form to say goodbye is a miracle made possible by Gracefeel.

After those heartfelt goodbyes where Mary and Blood reiterate how they consider Will their child, Will prepares to head out on his personal journey. Gus has been “hired” by Gracefeel to continue watching the seal on the High King for ten more years, then he’ll pass on as well. After that, dealing with the high king will be up to Will…or I should say, William G. Maryblood, taking the names of his parents as his last name and his gramps as his middle.

The episode ends on a bittersweet note with a flashback to the human Blood and Mary talking about settling down after all this, getting married, and having a kid—which Blood just assumes will be a boy and Mary goes along with it. Fine; not sure why a girl couldn’t be trained to be a warrior, but whatevs! It’s here where they also agree on the name of that future child: William, or “helmet of will”, knowing he’ll inheret their iron wills.

Takt Op. Destiny – 05 – Train Ride of the Valkyrie

The road trip continues until Anna catches a flat tire, and Takt, chivalrous as always, is sitting on the car as she tries to jack it up. We learn how dangerous it is to not be mobile when D2s almost immediately show up, but after learning something from Lenny and Titan, Cosette is able to dispatch the baddies with pinpoint accuracy and efficiency.

At the end of the battle Cosette finds herself standing on a train track, and an incoming train is forced to stop—and good thing it did, as it would have definitely borne the brunt of their collision! She’s met by a tall and honorable-looking fellow Musicart in knight’s armor. It’s a Symphonica train.

In charge is the blond, arrogant Commander Felix Schindler, who considers this unregistered Musicart and Conductor to be valuable pawns if managed properly. The train is on its way to Houston, so he offers Anna, Takt and Cosette a ride as they’re ultimately headed to New Orleans.

Schindler tries to keep things cordial, but while Cosette is easily distracted by a super-rich chocolate confection, neither Takt nor Anna particularly like or trust this guy…especially when the knight Musicart basically tells them to stay in their cabin like glorified prisoners.

Of course, when Cosette detects D2s outside, the leather, glass, wood, and metal of the train cabin are no match for her, and we get an awesome new kind of battle for this series: a battle on a moving train. Again, Takt and Cosette prove they were paying attention to Lenny and Titan’s instruction.

The uptight knight Musicart doesn’t care at all for their constant insolence, but the other Musicart, Schindler’s personal guard, takes a liking to the pair. She also reveals that the knight Musicart is actually a big ol’ softie who has yet to bond with a Conductor, and recommends Takt basically bring her to heel. This Musicart also wants Cosette’s eyes…so…yeah. She’s a bit of a wild card!

While Cosette was far more precise than her first battles, she still caused damage to the track that takes a half day to repair. With valuable D2-luring material on board a train that’s now a sitting duck, when the sun starts to set a properly massive swarm of aerial D2s descends upon the train.

Cosette and the Knight go to town, but even the latter eliminating D2s quickly and efficiently, the sheer numbers they’re up against mean Takt is soon exhausted. The Knight, with no Conductor to draw energy from, starts to fade even faster.

Even so, neither of them give up, and the Knight seems to admire how Takt continues to conduct even while lying prone on the dirt, for the sake of protecting the train. When the battle is won thanks to some unconventional thinking from Takt (having Cosette blast a couple of nearby cliffs to dust most of the D2s), she even flashes a smile and properly introduces herself as Walkure. When Takt voices his approval with that Wagner piece, Walkure (who I think I’ll just start calling Wally) blushes and swoons despite herself.

When a giant D2 boss shows up, with Takt and Wally basically running on fumes, Schindler turns to his trump card, Hell. Voiced with a seductive unhingedness by Ueda Reina, Hell activates her wheel boots, climbs up the cliff to where the boss is, and absolutely kicks the shit out of it, laughing maniacally all the while, and seemingly experiencing a measure of ecstasy upon defeating it. This is clearly a Musicart who absolutely loves to fight and destroy. Unlike Cosette, this isn’t duty; it’s pleasure.

When the train reaches Houston (or what’s left of it), Schindler is determined to claim Cosette and Takt as his pawns in a larger political game. So it’s extremely rewarding to see Takt refuse any and all offers. The three get in the car and motor out of there.

Rather than place a collar on a couple of “stray dogs”, Schindler got growled at and utterly rejected. He’s pissed, but Hell is more amused than anything. As for Wally, she seems to be the odd Musicart out, as her services are no longer required by Schindler, but she doesn’t join the road trip either. I hope we’ll see her again soon. But first…time to hit the Big Easy!

The Faraway Paladin – 04 – Divine Protection

Gus manages to fight off Stagnate, but it turns out Stagnate split himself in two. Stagnate’s second half arrives and puts Blood, Mary, and Gus out of commission, and gives Will an ultimatum: join him, or lose them all. He’s clearly the more charitable, patient half, because he gives Will 24 hours to decide. Will uses that time to sulk.

It’s at this point that the show reminds us that Will was, as he calls it, a useless garbage person in his past life, something he’s kept from his parents to this point. But when he wakes up and starts ranting about how useless and garbage-y he still is, Mary won’t hear it. She slaps him, tells him to stand up and get ahold of himself. Will may not have cried for his parents in his first life, but the fact he’s so shook up about his new parents proves he’s not the same person in this life.

Will turns Stagnate down, then has to fight a bunch of skeletons, which he does successfully, leading Stagnate to once again ask Will to join him. Will can tell Stagnate is genuine in his passion for and desire to create world without life or death, but simple everlasting…stagnation. The thing is, Will already had his fill of that in his past life, and is now in a position to reject it.

That’s because, even after Stagnate offers Will a cup of his blood, Will cuts of Stagnate’s hand holding the cup, and then the hand turns into a snake that injects Will with the blood like venom anyway, Will wakes up in the divine domain of Gracefeel, Goddess of the cycle of death and rebirth. A caring, benevolent God not unlike Mary in personality offers Will her divine protection.

All he has to do is what he wants to do anyway: move forward. Live. Not stagnate. When Will comes to, he’s able to use the Divine Torch, which spooks Stagnate into launching an emergency destruction spell. But Will realizes almost too late that Stagnate was using that as a smokescreen so he could get to his true target: Mary and Blood. Will Will make it in time to save his parents? I hope so!

Rating: 4/5 Stars

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