Grand Blue – 10 – Tell No Lies in the Ocean

The club finally makes it to Okinawa for real, and while events don’t unfold much like the overly dramatized preview last week, it’s an enjoyable outing and as a complete diving noob I was also educated as I was entertained.

The beach house is short on bedrooms, so Iori and Kouhei immediately jump at the first chance to compete to see who gets a bed and who gets the floor (even though there’s an huge unused sofa in the living room).

Their constant bickering and competing mars an otherwise enjoyable day at the beach, and Grand Blue notably doesn’t employ the usual slow upward pans. Yet even though Chisa isn’t really having fun, Aina is jealous that she’s out there with Iori.

It’s not all fun and games, as the newbies Iori Kouhei and Aina have to pass a bunch of tests and exams in order to be cleared for diving. Because he’s stashed with Nanaka and Azusa overnight, Iori can’t sleep (without choking himself out) so he studies instead.

Ultimately all three pass, and the next day their practical exercises commence. Diving Time! Here Grand Blue gets super-instructional, and the hand signals are accompanied by the voices of those making them. I learned about how a diver descends and ascends, as well as the standard 60-psi limit to remaining underwater.

Not only that, I learned it only takes one diver hitting that 60-psi limit for all of the divers’ dives to ends. It’s a team exercise, and so the team ascends as one. Traumatized by the much less “team-y” tennis club that rejected her, Aina is worried about being the first to hit 60 and “causing trouble.”

But as Iori explains, she has nothing to fear or be ashamed of; their seniors aren’t the kind who will hold it against her for shortening their dives. Rather than needlessly worry about what others think, she should focus on improving her underwater breathing. As with anything, it will improve with practice, and Iori gives Aina the comfort and confidence to keep at it.

And herein lies a competition far quieter than the far more annoying ongoing one between Iori and Kouhei: that between Chisa and Aina for Iori’s attention. Whether Chisa is on the boat with him or he’s comforting Aina, the women are watching each other very closely. I wonder if anything will come of it?

Qualidea Code – 02

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QC scales things back quite a bit in the combat department, as after last week’s big battle with the Unknown, all that’s left for our three heads and subheads is to patrol the areas Hime destroyed as they undergo repairs. Right off the bat, you see what the show is trying to do: get three different pairs (each one with a malcontent) who don’t really like each other to start getting along, for the good of their civilization.

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The patrol job was just as boring to watch as it must’ve been to patrol, though the “positive” sides of the pairs—Hime, Canaria, and Asuha (sorta)—do their part. Ichiya, Hotaru, and Kasumi, the “negative” sides of the pairs, mostly just snipe and make the engineering students doing the repairs wonder if they’re always so dysfunctional.

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After that, it’s apparently time to put our group in swimsuits for the sake of fanservice, only halfway through the second episode. Not only that, only Hotaru ends up sporting a halfway-practical suit for deep-sea swimming. The others wear pretty bikinis more suited for the beach—including Cana, who can’t swim and doesn’t go in the water. I’m also pretty sure Asuha had sandals when she went in the water, but quickly lost them.

Odd choice of apparel aside, it’s Kasumi, who also can’t go underwater for various reasons, who ends up completing their mission: to find and take out a submarine Unknown that was spotted last night by a couple of kids who went out to kiss (they view these memories with the help of Yaegaki Aoi, who Kasumi seems interested in and vice versa).

Asuha ultimately ends up serving as bait for the Unknown, which Kasumi takes out from the surface with his rifle, impressing Ichiya in the process. And yes, Ichiya is otherwise just as haughty and obnoxious as the first episode, and Canaria doesn’t call him on it enough for my taste.

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All’s well that ends well…but I can’t shake the feeling I’ve been here before. The brother-sister pair who have trouble with their feelings; the arrogant fiery upstart and his more passive, charming partner; the serious chick who melts before her tiny, cute partner; even the two adult COs: the more wild, slightly pervy guy and the more straight-laced, mom-like lady.

While this show is considerably less over-the-top than Hundred (and more gender-balanced), it’s also not offering all that much in the way of originality, which means it’s more of a show I’d watch if nothing else is going on.

The one thing I liked about last week that sets it apart is that seagull disappearing in the sky, indicating some kind of barrier. We see the gulls again, and then it’s confirmed that there is indeed a barrier, and the adults are worried the Unknown may be starting to breach it from under the sea.

While this does some damage to my theory about the whole world the kids live in being a simulation (enabling superpowers and such), I’m interested in anything that will hike up the peril for these kids. Things are just a little too easy and a little to comfortable right now.

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Taimadou Gakuen 35 Shiken Shoutai – 09

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Wow, it’s like Hannah has some kind of sixth (or 35th!) sense, because she handed this episode off to me, predicting it would be more up my alley. Oh wait, the episode is called “Crazy Summer Time”…so that’s why…

Anyway, I’m glad to fill in for Han, who is still recovering from Titan overdose. And you know what? As “crazy summer time” episodes go, this wasn’t awful. Sure, boob sizes are compared and protagonists are licked by more than one girl, but the episode manages to keep things light, breezy, and humorous.

It also manages to differentiate between the characters, as Usagi and Mari are totally capable of posing as dates at a gentleman’s club, but Ootori…isn’t, and exhibits an itchy trigger finger when someone tries to scratch a nonexistent itch on her ass. Yes, it’s “specialty” jobs like this where Ootori doesn’t do so well.

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Despite her prematurely blowing everyone’s cover, they do retrieve the magic artifact they were looking for, and decide to investigate it for bonus points (and to mitigate Ootori’s penalty). When the ring accidentally falls right onto Takeru’s finger (like Frodo and the Ring!) he figures out pretty fast what the ring does: make all the girls around him drunk.

Besides being a pretty harsh endictment on the slimeball guy who wielded this ring before, it also gives us the unsolicited opportunity to observe what kind of drunks the girls are: Usagi is a giddy drunk; Mari is a sad drunk, Ootori is a wild drunk, and Suginami is a sick drunk (sick as in vomit). Even Lapis gets a little hiccup in.

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Let’s move on—because the episode sure does! This is really two half episodes, which is just as well…neither of these stories could occupy a full one. The second half involves an “endless Summer” possibly being perpetrated by a magic monster of some kind. While it’s a rather obvious excuse to get the girls in swimsuits, said swimsuits are actually quite reasonable in design. It is troubling that Lapis and her school number steals the show for Takeru. The clear winner of the “competition” is Ootori.

Yet even here, the personalities of the platoon shine through. Just as they handle being at a club or being drunk in different ways, they treat summer differently. Mari and Usagi are all about having the fun with the water and the splashing, but Suginami hates the Summer and the sun (makes sense given her clinical upbringing), while poor Ootori can’t swim (like Kirin in Asterisk).

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As for Takeru, he doesn’t act like a buffoon, but he does eat some off shaved ice, which I didn’t even know was a thing. As such, Usagi, Mari, and Lapis form a “Mini 35th” to take care of the pervy sea monster. Sure, Takeru comes in to help out, but in his heavy armor he’s pretty useless; it’s Lapis transforming into an industrial-grade fishing rod that allow them to hook the sucker and claim victory.

Ootori, knowing that both at the club and on the beach she wasn’t able to contribute that much, rewards the Mini 35th with the last three ice creams. Nothing death-defying or groundbreaking going on here; just good harmless platoon bonding and some ever-so-slightly above average comedy.

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Rakudai Kishi no Cavalry – 05

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RKC is full of surprises. I never thought I’d be awarding two nines in a row to it, but it showed this week, categorically, that the excellent handling of Stella and Ikki’s confession wasn’t a fluke; that wonderful romance is here to stay, and there’s lots of room to grow.

But there were sure to be bumps in the road, and the first is that they’ve been lovers for two weeks…but haven’t done anything. That seems to bother Stella more than Ikki, but as we eventually find out, that’s not the case at all. It’s another common romantic convention: both lovers waiting for the other to start something and getting frustrated by it. Yet it’s another convention RKC picks up and runs with, showing how potent and relatable idea it can be.

While they’ve been lovers doing nothing for two weeks, Ikki has only risen in school standing, no longer the Worst One, but “Another One” (that’s not really his nickname, is it?). The girls swarm around him wanting lessons in swordsmanship; a group of guys gets jealous, but he beats them so easily they become his loyal students, a nice change of pace from the typical “you’ll regret this!” storming off that even the reporter mentions.

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The group of students he’s teaching keep growing along with his popularity, and while Stella is probably proud of him and admiring of his generosity, there’s no doubt she’s getting nudged out of chunks of time he could be with her.

Also Shizuku, as it turns out, hasn’t quite given up on him, or at least intends to make life difficult for Stella if she fails to assert herself. I particularly liked Shizuku’s ear-to-ear grin as Stella must follow through and chug her two bottles of Pocari Sweat.

Another great moment was when Alice lent Stell a game whose protagonist looks and sounds very similar, if not identical, minus the glasses, to Ikki. Her “illicit” vicarious play hearkens back to that great scene where she can’t help but touch Ikki’s chest while he’s sleeping.

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When Ikki takes his class to the pool, he invites Stella along. When she angrily wonders why he doesn’t want to teach her, he gives a very good explanation that not only appeases but flatters her: her ability is beyond anything can teach her, that his style would undermine her strengths, and he wants her, over any other, to continue to go beyond his imagination.

But the fact of the matter is, nothing continues to happen, and Stella is forced into the background as he teaches the others. The reporter puts two and two together, threatens to ask Ikki out, then gets Stella to let slip they’re lovers going nowhere. The reporter’s advice is simple: be forceful and tell him what you want. But of course, it’s not that simple.

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The reporter’s talk with Stella mirrors Alice’s talk with Shizuku, and in this case Alice has valuable insight into the male mind, since he shares their biology, if not that identity. The episode cleverly cuts between the two discussions, Archer-style. It’s also notable that Alice, hardly a conservative, doesn’t think Shizuku’s love for her brother is necessarily wrong, and that she shouldn’t accept defeat just yet.

Still, that’s because Alice is rooting for her beloved friend and roommate. In reality, Ikki is very much in love with Stella, and vice-versa. When the two come together, Ikki starts to talk in a way that Stella interprets as a break-up. The two have their first lovers’ quarrel, and it’s a damn fine one, with the two of them belting out increasingly reasonable things even as they get unreasonably upset with one another.

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Brass tacks: Ikki didn’t make the first move because he was worried she’d think he was a dirty man; Stella didn’t because she was worried he’d think she was a slut. They’re both wrong; both want the other to make a move. So they agree to say the thing they want to do right there and then, and it’s the same thing: kiss. Ikki makes it clear he wants her to ask him for a kiss when she wants one; Stella lets him know she only likes it when one guy looks at her in a naughty way: him.

Having cleared a common hurdle at the start of relationships when the two parties are still feeling each other’s patterns and ways of doing things out, they confidently hold hands on the bus ride home, each knowing a lot more what the other expects, and likely feeling foolish for ever worrying about it. Some tough battles with the Evil Student Council executives lay ahead for both of these lovers, but they won’t have to worry about what the other wants anymore.

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Gakkou Gurashi! – 09

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For all its foreboding teasing of the evacuation plan and the possibility the school was built almost in expectation of a zombie apocalypse, with the exception of the closing minute this is the first episode of GG! that truly felt like more idle stalling than its usual expert mood and tension-building. That’s not surprising, considering the episode adopts the tried and in most cases tired trope of the ol’ Pool Episode—only the pool is a rooftop biotope.

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Mind you, it does seem to be summertime, and the girls are still girls, so they make it a point to try out the swimsuits they acquired at the mall to put their minds off all the zombie business and have some fun. But the fact both they and the episode simply set aside the zombie threat—without so much as a groan from down below in the yard where all the zombies are shuffling around—sapped the show of  its usual gripping dread. I kept expecting a ball or Frisbee would fly off the roof and garner unwanted attention…alas, no such peril ever materialized.

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It isn’t until everyone has showered, had a light meal, and gone off to bed that Taroumaru hears something with his dog ears, slips out of his lead, and strikes out to investigate. While the girls were spared any unpleasantness this week, that’s sure to change soon, as Megu-nee is still up and about—though decidedly neither alive nor well—in the sub-basement they’re preparing to explore tomorrow.

Considering in the chronology of the show there hasn’t actually been a zombie confrontation since they found one in the library way back in the second episode, I’d say we’re due for some fresh menace—this time of a far more personal kind—and of a kind that’s not going to do Yuki’s (or anyone else’s) mental state any favors.

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Trinity Seven – 03

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As a rule, it’s a warning sign when a show gets spends its beach episode nickel so early in the rotation. For sexy harem shows, it’s usually the best thing they’ve got, which means the rest of the season will be drab by comparison (not worth watching) and for less harem-y shows, it usually means they don’t know what they are doing or don’t have a season’s worth of interesting content.

Truth be told, I would have dropped Trinity Seven right here…except, for some reason, episodes 3 and 4 appeared in my queue at the same time and I accidentally watched them out of order! Oops.

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So? Beach Episode? Yes! With a hot spring hrown in for good measure! Arata and Arin are punished for destroying the school and forced to work the grill while all the other girls get to flaunt and swim. Everyone talks about boobs and their different sizes and agree that all boobs are good as long as they are attached to a cute girl.

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I have to give Trinity Seven a tiny bit of credit: It does just come out and say it’s a harem. Literally. The characters just say that. I don’t think that’s brave or anything but at least we’re not shovel fed fake pretext. I guess that’s good?

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Then we get a flash back to the end of last week where Arata was killed in a fight to stop him destroying the world but wasn’t because he was sucked away to Yui’s room and he learned more about magic.

I guess that’s what happened anyway. Trinity Seven likes to blather on about its magic systems in such a way that my brain goes into pre-stroke shutdown and, when I reawaken to whatever fanservice follows, I only have the vaguest memory of what it was saying.

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Then we see Arata turn into magic mode, which maybe was explained at some point when I wasn’t listening but he looks like a goth kid with a techno trench coat now and he has a magic gun. Then his magic makes everyone naked.

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Eventually we learn that Levi is a lesbian. I guess. Maybe? Then we get rape fantasies and kimonos and stuff and…you can guess why I would have dropped this show here, can’t you? There’s just nothing here but boobies, lengthy and idiotic sounding diatribes about magic and more boobies.

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Nisekoi – 18

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When Shuu arranges a late summer beach trip with everyone, we expected a full-on war between the girls interested in Raku in various ways. But while there was competition, most of the silly stuff was dispensed with relatively quickly, again giving way to Kosaki and Chitoge’s struggles. It would seem Kosaki can’t even when her thoughts accidentally surface into words (blurting out her desire to kiss Raku as they gaze at the moon from a pier), because Raku had nodded off in that moment.

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But while looking for the two, Chitoge does hear her. She somewhat convinces herself she misheard and Kosaki was talking about kimchi, but she’s just as frustrated that it matters. She shouldn’t care if Kosaki likes Raku, because she doesn’t…right? Well, no. When Chitoge confides in Kosaki (passing her problem off as a friend’s), Kosaki diagnoses it as a crush. All the symptoms are there. Even Chitoge knows it, as much as she doesn’t want it to be true.

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Her affection for Raku has simply progressed to the point she can’t simply continue to be pretend lovers or even friends. The pressure has built up too high, and she needs a release. She posits a question to Raku about whether they’d have (past tense) worked out if they were a real couple. Totally thrown off by the question and Chitoge’s seriousness, the hasty reply Raku utters feels like a total rejection, which crushes Chitoge in the more literal sense.

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Mind you, Raku isn’t necessarily lying when he says Chitoge isn’t his type, but people who really hate each other don’t argue all the time, they simply ignore each other. And neither Raku nor Chitoge have ignored each other during their time together, and it’s seemed to be less about fulfilling their familyt obligations and more about having a true friendship, like they used to have years ago. But after that night, they don’t speak for the rest of the summer.

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The Chitoge that arrives at school next semester is longer crushing on Rake, nor does she appear to want anything more to do with him. Raku doesn’t like this, but perhaps this was the kind of dire situation that was needed to bring about change. Both have already thought the things they need to say to one another. Now they need to say them, without further sarcasm, pretense, or forced insults.

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Stray Observations:

  • The girls are wearing exactly the kind of swimsuits they should be wearing, except for Seishirou, who is wearing a sexy number because Chitoge made her.
  • Kosaki’s sand castles (and sand…Esthar Citys) are pretty boss. Very Shaft thing to have characters building ridiculously detailed, impressive things while chatting.
  • Looks like we’ll be getting a cultural festival for the home stretch…plenty of opportunities both to avoid each other and be together. Shuu wants to make sure of that by casting them as Romeo & Juliet. Talk about bad timing!

Sakura Trick – 07

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Leave it to an earnest, uncynical show like Sakura Trick to be upfront about the fact that half of this episode would be heavy on the fanservice. That being said, it wasn’t merely a showcase of the casts’ T&A, and the venue of the swimsuit-donning was carefully chosen so as to create some uncharacteristic tension and drama, however slight and fleeting.

Kotone’s little sister Shinobu has always resented Shizuku for stealing Kotone’s attention away from her, something that started when Shizuku first showed up. She decides to put her foot down and insist Kotone return home. When she makes this demand, both Kotone and Shizuku seem to wait for the other to do something, but it’s Haruka and Mitsuki who end up acting; the latter calling for a race to settle matters, which Shizuku ends up winning, returning us to the status quo. Like we said: fleeting.

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The second half involves Yuu wanting a new scarf, and even when Shizuku shows up wearing the scarf she wants, which was the last one at the store, Yuu still wants the scarf she wants. It’s the kind of puerile selfishness Yuu knows she can get away with with Shizuka, because for the most part Shizuka loves doting on her. When we first heard “shopping” we immediately thought: “Well, they’re obviously going to end up making out in the dressing room.” That doesn’t happen per se, but Yuu does end up kissing Shizuka as an accompanying reflex to her happiness over finding an even cuter scarf.

In fact, Haruka and Yuu have gotten so used to making out, they even do so while Kotone and Shizuku are in the room; fortunately they’re very unobservant and/or don’t care. They also steal a long underwater kiss in Kotone’s pool. The show may have blown temporary clouds over Kotone and Shizuku, but it was nothing but clear blue skies for Haruka and Yuu. And as we’ve oft repeated, that’s not such a bad thing.


Rating: 6 (Good)