Shingeki no Bahamut: Genesis – 07

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Bahamut bursts out of its recap week gate full speed ahead with a very well-orchestrated and balanced episode, as Azazel leads a large demon host to the walls of Antae to re-capture the God Key, AKA Amira.

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The episode is clever in that on one side of the castle walls, Jeanne d’Arc leads the defense of the city in a big, loud, shiny, yelly battle, in which she successfully uses her trusty Maltet to dispatch Pazuzu. But this battle isn’t the whole episode. In fact, the battle is just a distraction so Azazel can sneak in.

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Inside the castle walls, the episode hasn’t forgotten about our quartet of heroes and heroines, but while there’s certainly plenty of dread – especially when Azazel arrives, there’s the feeling the larger battle is far away. It’s a lot more claustrophobic, but also a lot livlier thanks to the banter between Favaro and Kaisar.

After meeting with that shadowy guy, Amira just wants to eat eat eat, and if she didn’t pass out from the wine, she herself would be one more obstacles to keeping her alive and free from the fallen angel’s clutches.

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The episode doesn’t pretend this is an even fight, either: Azazel looks down on Favaro, Kaisar, and Rita like they’re insignificant ants to be swiped away before claiming his prize. They can’t hope to beat him, but they can take turns delaying him. First Favaro stays behind so the others can escape, in a display that clearly shows some of what Jeanne said to him about being more than just an ex-bounty hunter stuck. Heck, he even puts his demon tail into it!

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Once Rita has Amira safely away from the fight, Kaisar returns, not about to allow someone else to kill “his father’s killer.” Again Fav and Kai show how well they work together and stab Azazel through the heart. But, of course, Azazel doesn’t have a heart, and human weapons can’t kill him. He still plays dead for a moment just to mess with them. This, and his response after Favaro accused him of cheating, are both great moments for the evil yet irreverant bastard: “Well, I am a demon.” You are indeed.

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The guys are in a bad way, but Kaisar happens to turn his sword in such a way that he notices a faint glimmer of light down in the city streets. He then makes a seemingly suicidal rush at Azazel, but in the knick of time, a great light appears behind him. It’s not the rising sun, but Jeanne with Maltet, who spotted Azazel and needed those few moments Kaisar gave her to execute her attack and send Azazel packing.

I’m not sure exactly how the physics of Kaisar’s stunt worked, but nor do I care; it was a sweet setpiece that also united the battle that had been going on inside the castle with the one happening outside. Rita, unfortunately got the short end of the stick, but she definitely contributed.

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With the demon army repelled and the day won, all that’s left is to stuff Amira back in her room to keep her safe. Alas, it only takes a moment (after she glimpses her ‘father’) for Amira to wander away from Rita and into the square where the giant Bahamut statue stands. There, the terrifying power of Bahamut and the past destruction it’s caused flashes through her bandaged head. We witnessed a lovely battle, but it was only a battle. There are plenty more foes to fight before the war is won.

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Ookami Shoujo to Kuro Ouji – 08

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Our fake couple is now a real couple, but the show wastes no time blemishing their perfect cherry blossom date by teasing the next fly in the ointment: Kamiya Nozomi, the Red Prince.

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Oh, and about that date: Kyoya only agreed to go because he lost rock-paper-scissors. And once on this date, he feels he’s under no obligation to do anything with Erika other than look at the trees. His uncooperative, unromantic attitude sparks an argument with Erika after he refuses to go on a boat ride. Trouble in paradise so soon? But of course; this is Kyoya and Erika we’re talking about!

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Erika stubbornly takes a boat out by herself, and surrounded by happy-looking couples, arrives at two conclusions. First, Kyoya is a jerk. Second, she’s a jerk too, for being so pushy. She realizes that simply forcing him to do stuff because he’s her boyfriend isn’t fun.

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But that’s only half the story. While just as stubbornly sitting alone, Kyoya comes to the same conclusions. When he sees how happy another girl is when her date gives her a peck on the head, even though he didn’t want to, Kyoya starts to get it. He’d rather see Erika smiling sincerely. The two make up quite cutely over takoyaki, and all’s well in paradise once more. Compromise and give-and-take – the keys to any healthy relationship!

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After that, it’s back to school, and Erika is delighted to find not only Ayumi, Marin, and Aki in her class, but her beloved Kyoya as well. Marin and Aki call her out on her cockiness, as now it’s their turn to be jealous their friend gets to be so close with her boyfriend all the time.

Their line to Erika is hilarious but also wonderfully meta, as it acknowledges Marin and Aki are actually much more than just the “self-obsessed class bitches” they began the show as. Sure, they’re still shallow, but they do care about her and value Erika’s friendship. If they didn’t, they wouldn’t be so annoyed.

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Speaking of annoying (along with tacky and charismatic), as Erika & Co. approach their classroom it’s revealed Kamiya Nozomi is also in their class, and has wasted no time getting the lay of the ladyland, literally blocking the door unless girls give their names. Just as he assumed in the park that Kyoya was with only one of his many girls, when he sees him with Erika, Ayumi, Marin and Aki, it reinforces that assumption, which makes Kyoya something Nozomi was hoping for: a worthy rival for the girls’ love.

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I can’t fault Nozomi’s misinterpretation at this point, because Kyoya really does give off that air of non-monogamy with his intense popularity with the girls. And with that misinterpretation in mind, his constant hitting on Erika also makes sense. She’s one of Kyoya’s girls, but he’ll make her his, and learn what’s so special about her. Erika, perfectly content in her monogamous relationship with Kyoya, is intermittently flattered and put off by Nozomi’s extremely un-subtle advances. She’s not buying the tacky sales pitch…mostly.

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But even deflecting that pitch gets her and Nozomi in trouble for talking in class, and they’re appointed the lead student organizers for the class’s upcoming orienteering trip as punishment. Kyoya goes home without her, in a wonderfully shot little sequence where the colors are so bright and washed out it’s like she’s being isolated in some kind of draconian medical facility!

In there, she must endure even more of Nozomi’s flirting, even inviting her out some ‘adult fun,’ right after getting off the phone with another girl, and Erika has to put her foot down, telling him the behavior she’s witnessed from him just…isn’t right.

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Still wrongly assuming Erika is one of Kyoya’s many girls, he clears something up to her: he has no girlfriend. He doesn’t believe in girlfriends, and deems monogamy a kind of tyranny that has no place in youth. For him, ‘Tis more fun to have all kinds of experiences with all kinds of girls, without getting tied down.

He’s either under the delusion that no girl will ever start feeling serious about him or ever object to him having other girls…or maybe he’s aware of those possibilities and his freedom is more important than that kind of stuff. There’s also the fact that every girl he’s with knows what they’re getting into, and so they’re the ones responsible, from Nozomi’s perspective, if things go sour.

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Erika cannot endorse Nozomi’s philosophy. It’s just not how she was brought up, but she also wants the institution of monogamous romance to succeed, for obvious personal reasons. But when she tells Nozomi she and Kyoya are dating exclusively, he can hardly believe it. Almost every chance he gets, he points out just how…plain and normal Erika is, and how that reduces her value as a person. That’s the reason I really dislike the guy; not his promiscuity.

Kyoya and Erika’s happiness is far less important to Nozomi than having a decent love rival to battle over girls with. To that end, when he gets alone with Kyoya (who decided to be the dutiful boyfriend and wait for Erika, which is sweet),  he probes him to see if he’s serious about just dating plain ol’ Erika by asking what quality made him sink so low. Surely it’s because she’s rich, or has dirt on him, or because she’s good in bed.

That’s the hit nerve that confirms to Nozomi the state Kyoya is in, which he considers ‘sad’ and ‘a waste’. He’s in love with a girl far below his standing, and needs to be shown the error of his ways. This doesn’t bode well for Erika, who Nozomi may continue to pursue, which could get Kyoya jealous. It just doesn’t bode well period...but who said high school romances were all takoyaki and boat rides?

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Kiseijuu: Sei no Kakuritsu – 07

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Shinichi lands from the jump he began last episode and turns to find a parasyte… just not the parasyte he was expecting. As it turns out, Shinichi discovers he’s not alone in this crazy world: Uda Mamoru, a cry-baby but moral fellow, is also in an alliance of sorts with a parasyte.

Uda’s situation is a bit different from Shinichi’s, in that he lives in a rural area and hasn’t run into any other parasytes yet. On top of that, his parasyte (simply called Parasyte — it didn’t want a name) comes off as generally more up-beat than Migi. Maybe even ‘nice?’

parasyte72Oh Yeah! Mikako is in this episode! I guess.

You see, Uda fell into the water during the transformation process and Parasyte had to save his life from the get go. Sure, he probably would have died if he’d tried to just eat Uda’s brain, but that thought process, and Uda’s love of movies over books, has lead to a quirkier, less edgy relationship.

And for goodness sakes! His face is delightful!

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Uda and Shinichi quickly become friends and Uda promises to warn Shinichi over the phone if he encounters another parasyte, which happens about 5 seconds later and then there’s a show down with Shinichi’s Not-Mom on a cliff.

Unfortunately, Migi has just fallen asleep and Uda is stabbed through the heart very quickly. So Shinichi has to go it alone… albeit with a sword-hand Migi left him at the last minute.

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In simple terms, Shinichi wipes the floor with Not-Mom. While he has a moment of pause when she shields herself with her brun-arm, Sinichi’s new speed and reflexes let him see how simplistic not mom really is.

In fact, the hybrid’s appear to be smarter than pure-parasytes in general. Uda survives because Parasyte understood Not-Mom’s attack pattern and moved his heart elsewhere. Uda even lands the killing blow, as a courtesy to Shinichi.

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Soon there after, Shinichi is reunited with his dad, has a nice moment where they sort of indirectly come to understand each other, and Mikako gets totally left behind because… wait why was she introduced as a character in the first place?

I’m not even sure Shinichi remembers her name…

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So it was a good episode but I can’t figure out how it deserves anything higher than an 8? Honestly, between the multi-character voice overs, the DBZ style ‘flurry of fists’ fight animation, and the completely obvious and predictable outcome of all this build up, none of episode 7 was notable.

Sure, Shinichi finally got to be mister bad ass and Udo/Parasyte were a cute duo, but I’m scratching my head over Mikako and Not-Mom. I was waiting for some twist to happen with the first, and bewildered why the later was still hanging around this remote town AFTER she’d already gone to Tokyo.

Maybe we’ll get some answers later on but I don’t get the feeling we’ll see Udo or Mikako again, which just made the last 3 episodes feel like a fetch quest style ‘whatever’ side mission.

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Ookami Shoujo to Kuro Ouji – 07

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Erika and the episode waste no time after Kyoya’s latest apathetic remarks; Erika approaches him cordially with the decision that she’s no longer a Wolf Girl, and he no longer has to pretend to be her boyfriend. Yes: Erika dumps Kyoya. It’s a command performance for both, but as Erika later cries to herself on the way home, it’s clear her love for him isn’t all gone, nor is Kyoya as okay with this development as he seems.

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A bit of residual anguish is to be expected, but the next day Erika is determined to move forward. She basks in Yuu’s kindness and accepts his invitation to hang out at an arcade, under the condition San can come along. The whole time, San notes how hyper and happy she is, almost like she’s forcing things — and she is. But Erika’s attitude is to be expected of someone who has just had a huge weight lifted off her shoulders.

She’s free: free from torture and verbal abuse; free to choose someone anew, who really cares for and will treasure her. Only…she makes clear to San she’s not sure Yuu is that someone. San warns Erika she can’t lead Yuu on too long, otherwise she’s no better than Kyoya. Yuu needs an answer ASAP, even if he’s not forcing her for one.

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At school, Erika and Yuu can’t help but see Kyoya with other girls, but his black prince persona is leaking out of him, as he’s frustrated with his loss of Erika and with those girls so eagerly presenting themselves before him to take it out on. Kyoya seeing Erika with Yuu, whom he dismisses as a ‘wimp’ and a ‘huge step down’, pisses Kyoya off even more.

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Yuu arranges a White Day date with Erika at the aquarium (ZOMG axolotls!), where they proceed have a ton of fun…while Kyoya lays on his couch at home, defeated. Kakeru (who along with his crew looks like a bunch of disguised shinigami from Bleach) spots Erika having fun with another guy and calls Kyoya in a panic, like the good friend that he is, to ask him what his fucking problem is.

Kyoya hangs up on him. It was so easy to mercilessly berate a girl who genuinely cared about him; now that she’s gone, and Kyoya finds that dispite his assertions to the contray, he genuinely cares about her, suddenly he has a far tougher road ahead to fix things. Yet there he lies on the couch. Who is truly the ‘wimp’ here, hmmmm?

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I said last week that Yuu’s syrupy-sweet, unconditional, suffocating niceness would grow old for Erika quick, and not just because she’s used to being mistreated, and it does. Because of that past pain, she desperately wants to fall for Yuu, but it’s just not going to happen as long as Kyoya still draws breath, cad that he is. Not only that, Erika just isn’t the type of person to fall for Yuu. She thrives in the battle, and giving up on Kyoya would mean surrender and retirement.

For that reason, Erika does the right thing and promptly, calmly explains why she can’t return Yuu’s feelings. Yuu may seem a but over-yielding and understanding here, but let’s keep in mind just how delicate and worrying a guy he is. He knew this was a long shot all along, and has no ill will to Erika. If anything, their brief fling was an enlightening experience for him, which will pay dividends in his future dealings with both people and girls.

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It’s worth noting that the popular fountain that’s said to increase a couple’s love doesn’t actually activate or light up until Kyoya happens to show up, with as close a tail between his legs as he can muster, which translates to him possessively grabbing Erika by the arm and dragging her away from Yuu, even though there’s no call for that beyond saving face. Yuu warns him that this time he’d better ‘treasure her properly’, something Kyoya doesn’t respond to, but perhaps understands now.

When Erika demands to explain his actions, he silences her with their first kiss, saying “No more ‘Whys’.” But a kiss isn’t going to cut it for Erika, who’s been through enough with him to deserve a straight answer. Again, it’s only as straight as Kyoya dares, which means it’s still pretty damn roundabout:

I already said you belong to me…it means you aren’t just a way to kill the time…in general society, they’d usually call it love, right?

Yikes. Still, it’s genuine. Satisfied that he was close enough for her to claim victory this time, Erika kisses him back, then agrees to let him be her real boyfriend. He takes exception to who is letting whom do what, but the long and short of it is, these two have worked things out. I couldn’t be happier.

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Kiseijuu: Sei no Kakuritsu – 06

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Shinichi’s not-mom may have stabbed him through the heart, but obviously our protagonist can’t die a quarter of the way into the show. I mean, he could, like this guy (spoilers!), but I’d rather he stick around, and obviously so does Migi, since he won’t last long without a living host. His revival is a “how, not if” situation. But that doesn’t meant the “how” won’t change both host and parasite.

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I like the juxtaposition of Shinichi on the floor dead with a scene at school in which a concerned Satomi is grilled by another classmate who seems to be into him. This is all the drama Shinichi would have had to bear had he never “met” Migi. High School Drama, with rumors and innuendo and love triangles, not creepy-as-fuck monsters and massive internal injuries.

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Migi’s manner of reviving Shinichi is plausable within the construct of a show in which a character like Migi exists. The stabbing last week could have been construed as a cheap cliffhanger we knew would be resolved relatively simply, or the show intended it to feel like just another day in Shinichi’s Hell. It must also be pointed out that if Shinichi ever shows his chest to a physician ever again, there will be questions. Many, many questions.

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Poor Satomi has the worst timing this week (you could say, timing-wise, she’s…snake-bitten), as she stops by Shinichi’s just as he’s leaving to see his father at the hospital on the island where he and mom were staying. Satomi’s no fool, and sees that Shinichi is troubled by something; for Pete’s sake, he looks like he’s aged ten years! Dying for several minutes can do that.

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Shinichi’s relative cold shoulder isn’t just a factor of him wanting to protect her from the truth; he’s simply so emotionally on edge right now he simply can’t deal with something from his “normal world”, right now, which must’ve felt like it happened hundreds of years ago. His dad is in the hospital, his mom is dead, and he’s through with being Mr. Evolved Sensibility. He wants revenge.

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Did you notice how differently Shinichi’s father acted when his son was there, as opposed to earlier, when he was recounting his crazy story to the cops? He talks of a monster murdering his wife, but both the detectives and doctor believe he’s mixing reality and nightmares after suffering a head injury falling into the sea. A perfectly logical explanation. When Shinichi sees him, not only does Dad not want to cause a fuss in front of his son, but truly believes the explanation the others gave him.

When Shinichi mentions a monster, his dad just assumes he got the idea from an erratic phone call he made. In any case, Shinichi remains utterly alone in his knowledge of the Parasytes. Not that his dad’s continued raving would have accomplished anything. Two voices speaking about things like this carry no more weight than one.

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While staying at the inn owned by the family of a cute schoolgirl who he met on the boat to the island, Shinichi ponders his next move, and Migi finally awakens with important news: In his current physiological state, he now has to sleep four hours every day, and cannot be woken, even in an emergency. That’s bad news for Shinichi, who chose the inn specifically because it was within Migi’s detection range, but he can’t detect anything while asleep.

Still, Shinichi makes it clear that despite what his biology is saying to Migi, he no longer considers him an enemy, but a lifesaver and an ally. Admittedly, Shinichi could just be saying this because he doesn’t have a change against Not-Mom without his slippery friend.

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The innkeeper girl Mikako pretty much falls for Mr. Tall-and-Dark during his visit, and again, Shinichi simply has no time for love, as Migi finally detects a Parasyte. Shinichi rushes after it after only getting half of Mikako’s directions, but it’s all good because Migi further merging with his body has not only bestowed upon him heightened senses, but increased speed and strength. Are Not-Mom’s days numbered…or is Shinichi mistaken about the Parasyte Migi detected even being her?

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Ai Tenchi Muyo! – 20

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ATM! plunges us straight into the first sports festival event, an obstacle course between Hachiko and Yuki that quickly spirals into an extremely free-wheeling affair, what with the use of Hachiko’s bokken and Yuki’s Gouriki-kun.

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There’s order within the chaos, though, as each character acts according to their strengths – and weaknesses. When Gouriki snatches Hachiko’s sword, she reverts to a scared little girl…but Momo, ever the cheerful, inspiring leader, is able to get Hachiko to carry on long enough to recover her sword – and her normal personality.

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Thanks to Touri’s hacking of Gouriki, Hachiko is able to defeat Gouriki and win the race, while Yuki can only slap her cheeks in disbelief and outrage at her defeat. 50 points to the White Team. On to the next event!

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Ai Tenchi Muyo! – 19

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It’s Bloomertime…which is to say, Touri doesn’t have much changing to do! Although, one would hope she has different bloomers for athletic exertion. While the gym uniform seems to homogenize the students, there are still those who’ll hike their shirts up, like Hana and Rui. Momo is her usual cheerful self, and insists whatever happens, everyone is to have fun; that’s an order, teehee!

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In the teachers lounge, seemingly the only two teachers in the school go over the game plan, but which I mean Kurihara puts Tenchi in armor for his “referee” job, warning him that the sporting events of the imminent festival are based on “local traditions.” It occurs to me that the environs of the school aren’t that different from the environs of the “flashback episodes” in which Momo is just a kid. Also, Kurihara is basically Queen Beryl, if Beryl taught at an all-girls’ school. Which is kinda funny.

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Ultimately, though, not much happens, as this segment brings us right up to the start of the festival without getting into any of the events. The students are assembled like soldiers, and Kurihara announces that extra club materials, funds, and using Tenchi as a servant-for-a-day are all on the line. Tenchi is hearing that last bit for the first time. What abuse is he in for this time?

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Kiseijuu: Sei no Kakuritsu – 04

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Our fourth taste of Parasyte starts off tense and gross, with A-san and Migi initiating a furious battle of fleshy, sharp-pointed protuberances as Shinichi struggles to see what’s going on. But Migi is only defending; it’s up to Shinichi to take that sharp chair leg and attack A-san.

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That means walking through a constantly-moving forest of limbs and trusting that Migi won’t mess up and let him get torn to shreds. Once again, Shinichi, welcome to your new life: constantly in mortal danger, and having to make decisions you never thought you’d be faced with, like “It’s him or us.”

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Migi’s plan works perfectly, exploting A-san’s arrogant assumption that Shinichi won’t participate in the battle. This is a guy who had sex, and yet still doesn’t understand that two are stronger than one; he’s a lost cause. Oh, and the blood spout Shinichi makes is super-gross!

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It doesn’t kill him, though. Fortunately, Shinichi can walk away from this not only alive, but knowing he did not take a life. He just made that easier for Tamiya-sensei, who senses A-san coming for her, fills a lab with oxygen, and jumps out the window. The explosion finishes A-san off.

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Then…things kinda settle down, though unfortunately, there’s no interaction between Shinichi and Satomi this week after he was very brusque with her last week. And funnily enough, Tamiya-sensei’s “quiet, normal life” experiment isn’t blown by her role in destroying A-san (though you’d think arson experts would have noticed organic remains in the destroyed lab). Nope, it’s blown by the fact she’s an unmarried pregnant woman!

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Tamiya-sensei isn’t interested in trying to fix this mess; it’s easier to simply start over with a new host and “life.” To that end, she essentially tells Shinichi and Migi that the truce is over, and even reveals her weapon form, in another super-creepy transformation. It doesn’t look like our hero and his hand will get out of this one, but at the last second Tamiya reconsiders and spares their lives. Why? Not clear yet.

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Then, one morning Shinichi wakes up missing his whole arm, and learns of a fresh terror: Migi can detach from him for a maximum of three minutes. Having a sentient hand is disconcerting enough, but knowing it can hop off whenever it wants for a morning walk? Even more unnerving. Stay attached to me, dammit!

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Meanwhile, Tamiya-sensei’s mother visits her, worried sick, and almost instantly realizes that she’s not her Ryouko, but an impostor. When Mom tries to call the police, Tamiya is forced to kill her, but she’s surprised and vexed to no end: how did the old woman know?

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See? The internet corrupts everyone! Anyway, Satomi first hinted at it by asking Shinichi if he was really Shinichi, then later switching hands with him, and then further reinforced by Shinichi’s mother’s increasing unease. It would seem people with strong emotional bonds, like love, in both Satomi and Shinichi’s mom’s case, seem to be able to sense their loved one isn’t themselves. Of course, Shinichi is still mostly himself, but still enough of something else that both of the main women in his life notice.

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With circumstances being what they’ve been, Shinichi owes Migi his life several times over (even if in most cases Migi is the cause of the mortal peril to begin with); his alliance with the parasite in his hand hasn’t really been that big of an issue. The issue, besides not getting killed by other parasites, is a much heavier weight than Migi will ever be, and that’s the truth.

He chose not to reveal it to his parents, because let’s face it, as kind and loving as they are, they could very likely recoil and disown Shinichi on the spot. His mom is already suspicious of whether he’s even the same Shinichi she got burned with hot oil protecting. He can only conceal the truths for so long before the weight crushes him; it must be shared. Will Satomi be a different story?

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Tokyo Ghoul – 12 (Fin)

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Much of this episode was mind-searingly unpleasant and hard to watch with full focus, and I don’t think that was an accident. To give Ken’s eventual acceptance of Rize within him and the transformation that followed proper heft, The route to the destination had to be as excruciatingly awful as possible.

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Of course, that doesn’t make for the most enjoyable viewing experience, but I think this final episode of Tokyo Ghoul (for the time being) ended up succeeding because it adopted the same philosophy that Ken had always rejected and refused to live by but by the end of the episode embraces with gusto: You can’t have it all. Sometimes you have to choose. Sometimes survival requires change…horrible, irreversible change.

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Yamori is fascinated with Ken’s healing ability, and also getting a kick out of snapping off his toes and watching them grow back. Thankfully this grotesque spectacle is not continuous, but segmented with scenes of Ken in an abstract construct of his mind. While Yamori destroys him out there, Rize works on him in there, eventually uncovering Ken’s unconventional mommy issues.

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Represented by a field white flowers, Ken’s mom literally worked herself to death trying to make enough for her and Ken to survive while her sister came by often seeking money, which his mom always gave her. Rize argues his mom died because she refused to choose between her son or her sister. When Yamori asks Ken to choose between the two assistants who were trying to help him, he can’t do it, and as he wallows in his decision not to choose, Yamori kills them both.

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He might’ve done that anyway, regardless of who Ken chose, but it gets to a more fundamental decision in which Ken has chosen to abstain: the reality is, with Rize within him, he is far stronger than Yamori. Ken loved his mother so much, he vowed to live by the very mindset that led to her death. It takes Rize some talking, and showing him possible futures in which Hide and Anteiku are killed for Ken to finally snap and come around to her way of thinking.

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The first part of TG’s finale last week dealt with the ver external battle between Doves and Aogiri with Anteiku, but it follows it up with a very internal, cerebral battle between Ken’s often self-destructive pacifism and his dark potential. Ultimately, Ken seems to turn because he has so much to lose. He won’t make the same mistake mom did and lose all the people he’s come to care for since.

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To prevent his friends’ annihilation at Yamori’s hands and defeat him, Ken must give up whatever semblance of restraint he had upon his ghoul side, and let Rize out of the cage, even if getting her back in later proves impossible. The white flowers turn red and Yamori is dispatched with ease, and TG closes out its first season just as it began: with Rize (in one form or another) messily feasting upon a ghoul. Because devouring others (one way or another) is what life is all about!

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Final Average Rating: 7.67
MAL Score: 8.02

Tokyo Ghoul – 11

That guy with the light stick is one of the lucky ones
That guy with the light stick is one of the lucky ones

As the CCG, a thousand strong, stages a massive raid of Aogiri Tree, who number around half that, Anteiku wisely decides to use the ensuing chaos as cover for their rescue mission. Rather than dump us right into the middle of the biggest battle TG has attempted yet, we get a little bit of the waiting time that precedes it, followed by a pretty impressive (and somewhat terrifying) display of police force.

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Things start out pretty orderly, with lines of CCG and Aogiri exchanging gunfire and hiding behind shields. But the battle keeps from getting stale or boring by keeping things moving and jumping from one matchup to another. Juzo proves his worth and viciousness by eliminating An Aogiri sniper’s nest single-handedly, sacrificing his boss Harude’s prized motorcycle (whom he regards as “the perfect partner” in the omake) in the process.

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Okay, Suzu is nuts and his stitches are a bit gross, but he’s also pretty bad-ass

One notable face-off is between Touka and Amon, who is still so torn up over Mado that his thirst for revenge, along with the extreme present conditions outweighs whatever desire to reconcile with ghouls Ken might’ve instilled in him. He wants Touka dead. Fortunately for her, the S-rated Bin Brothers interrupt the fight, allowing her to escape. Using Kura, the two-handed quinque Mado left him, he dispatches the Bins, but there’s still a lot of bad guys left to slay, so there’s no time for congratulations.

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Doesn’t anyone want my giant satay stick?

Other matchups include Yomo and provisional ally Shuu teaming up against an Aogiri elite, Touka bumping into her brother Ayato yet again, and the climactic meeting of Harude’s right-hand man with the legendary “One-Eyed Owl”, which is shy of the camera but resembles a huge, horrific beast. Harude orders his man to fight the Owl with as few men as possible; no point in too much needless death…right?

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One takeaway from the battle is that the humans could have possibly taken the ghouls by being “wily”, as Mado told Amon when they were first paired up. But Harude isn’t particularly wily; he assumed having double the numbers and rushing in at full power would be enough to deal with Aogiri. Something tells me they rushed in too fast and too recklessly, and while they’ve taken out scores of foot soldier-level ghouls, most of the far more powerful higher-ups remain extant. But if Harude wanted to bomb the mall into the stone age, he could have. But he wanted a true battle, and he gets one.

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For the entire episode, Ken is tied to a chair in a large domed hall in the heart of the mall, and Yamori/Jason is using him as a plaything, subjecting him to the same sickening, brutal torture methods he himself underwent as a prisoner of the humans. It would seem that experience made him stronger and crazier. Ken seems to be getting broken pretty badly both physically and mentally himself, but Banjo and his underlings assure him he’ll be rescued. I’m sure he will be, but the Ken Anteiku will end up won’t be quite the same Ken that was taken from him.

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Sword Art Online II – 03

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After her great victory over Behemoth in GGO, Asada Shino logs off to find herself back in her lonely, tenuous, pitiable existence in the real world. Bullies shaking her down for fare in a dark alley threaten to show her a model gun, and we learn why that’s such a big deal: having put three bullets into a bank robber to save her mom as a small child, Shino now gets intense panic attacks every time she sees or touches a gun.

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Shino’s guy friend Shinkawa, who saves her from the bullies, suggested she dive into GGO as “immersive therapy”, and she found she could handle the guns in the virtual world without any issues. In fact, her entire motivation for rising in GGO is so the strength she’s gaining as Sinon will somehow “rub off” into the real world. But that seems like wishful thinking even she can’t always maintain, as she sinks into her bed thinking “Someone, please save me.” The real world is the real world, and GGO is GGO.

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Thanks to Death Gun, whom Kirito still hopes is just an urban legend but whom we know exists, those worlds are becoming intertwined. Those he targets in GGO die in the real world. Kirito and Shino’s paths have yet to cross, but now that he’s in GGO it’s only a matter of time, especially since we learn in the end that Sinon needs saving too: she’s Death Gun’s next target, no doubt having gained enough esteem to catch his attention.

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Kirito has a nice setup thanks to Kikuoka: a hospital room; the same saucy nurse Aki who took care of him when he was trapped in SAO; constant observation and instrumental monitoring. He’s not going in half-cocked, except for the fact he’s still not convinced the Big Bad is real. So…who is he? Well, we only see part of his face in the end as he strokes a picture of Sinon, but my guess would be Shinkawa. (Note that this is just a guess; no spoilers in the comments, please!)

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Their awkward tea revealed some of the inadequacies that could fuel a villain, from daddy issues and being on a path not on his making, to his friend surpassing him in the thing he introduced her to. It’s still unsettling to think he’d resort to murder; perhaps he bears deep psychological scars as Shino does, only his are expressed in violence towards others, particularly those who make him feel inferior, and he can’t stop any more than Shino can keep herself from vomiting. We’ll certainly see.

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Sword Art Online II – 02

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This week backed up a bit from Sinon’s introductory scene last week, setting up that scene with a bit of team strategizing, and then barreling right into the action, which barely lets up thereafter. The episode is dominated by one big, elaborate, very slickly-animated, thrilling battle. Just two episodes in, and things are looking good here at SAO.

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In GGO, Sinon is the sniper in a six-man crew of player-hunters, but their latest prey appear on the horizon with a new face attached to a big, cloaked body. Sinon is uneasy about this unknown, and wants to take him out first to eliminate that unknown, but the team leader Dyne overrules her. Sinon shoots the known Minimi gun-holder first, and can’t take out the stranger after, as he dodges. Then he pulls the cloak off to reveal…a minigun.

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Turns out the big man is Behemoth, a noted bodyguard-for-hire whose smile on the battlefield only further fuels Sinon’s intense desire to kill him, proving she’s the strongest on said battlefield. When her team loses a man, Dyne wigs out, but Sinon calms him down and directs everyone to execute a pincer attack. Behemoth still won’t go down, even after Dyne lunges at him with a gutsy suicide attack that buys her time to find a new nest.

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But even high up in a huge, awesome half-collapsed skyscraper, as Sinon’s crosshairs focus on Behemoth, his focus on hers, and she loses her leg, dodging a lethal shot only barely. As she plummets to the ground, she executes a number of bullet-dodging acrobatics before finally regaining her bearings and delivering a perfectly timed headshot. Sinon 1, Behemoth 0; Game over. “Sinon” awakes in the real world, unsatisfied. She won, but lost two comrades and a leg. She’s not as strong as she wants to be. Not yet.

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The episode could have cut to credits right then and there and I’d have been perfectly happy, but instead we get Bonus SAO, as we check in on Leafa, Liz, and Silica still chillin’ in ALfeim Online, gathering loot. Kirito and Asuna are also there with Yui, happy as clams. Staring up at Aincrad, Kirito ready to discuss something with Asuna—most likely the mission Kikuoka gave him last week. The day he inevitably crosses paths with Sinon should be something to behold.

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Chuunibyou demo Koi ga Shitai! Ren – 10

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Whatever Chuunibyou euphemisms she needs to use to describe her condition, the simple fact is that Satone has fallen for Yuuta…again…and has fallen hard. She’s determined to keep the promise she made to herself the first time it happened: to devote herself to remaining the magical devil girl forever. The persona (and mental state) that is Sophia Ring etc. is nicely represented by a simple (and very KyoAni) symbol: the little heart sticker on her cheek.

Whether due to the sweat and increased heart rate from her rekindled infatuation or the summer heat, that sticker has been coming loose and falling off. She tries to stick it back on, but it just falls off again. Her “condition” is being fueled by memories of close moments she had with Yuuta, and they’re proving more powerful than she can handle. It’s quite a transformation from the Satone we were first introduced to.

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It’s also a welcome one. With Shinka and Sanae’s love-hate relationship chugging along Yuuta, Rikka’s powers back, and she and Yuuta in their own lovey-dovey little world, it was only logical for the drama to start brewing around Satone, especially after her epiphany on the train. Having recently watched the film that recaps the first season, there’s a definite symmetry to Satone and Rikka’s arcs—only Satone’s isn’t poised to end happily; after all, there’s only one Yuuta. The pain and anguish Satone goes through this week is familiar, but still powerful.

Oh, Yuuta: so busy participating in his own subtle, unique, brand of romance with Rikka, doesn’t see Satone’s “battle” coming. They end up together again while Yuuta is searching for Rikka (natch) and have to seek shelter under a shrine when the heavens open up. That’s when Satone begins a totally different battle – one against herself. Despite featuring no fantastical special effects, it’s easily the best battle we’ve seen her in. She insists that Yuuta tell her everything he can to give her brain enough logical ammo to convince her heart to give up on this whole Yuuta business.

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Yuuta has no idea what’s going on, but when he gets a text from Rikka (natch) that sends him away, he unknowingly repeats a gesture he made to Satone in the past (throwing his cape over her in the rain), only this time, he’s throwing it over himself as he leaves. Satone thinks she’s gotten through the battle, but he returns with an umbrella he found for her. Just like that, the tears flow, the heart sticker washes away, and victory for Sophia may be out of reach for good.

We imagine the triangle that has thus coalesced shall be the focus of the two remaining episodes. Yuuta can’t possibly not know what her deal is; that would constitute an unacceptable level of denseness. We’re also hoping next week doesn’t simply pick up where we left off and let Satone get away with laughing it off. We’re going to operate under the assumption that Yuuta knows her true feelings for him now. It will be interesting to see what he does with that knowledge, and how it will affect things with Rikka (who still doesn’t know squat).

9_superiorRating: 9 (Superior)