Sabagebu! – 06

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Miou and the Student Council President Isurugi Yayoi clash, except Miou is too dense to notice this and Yayoi’s revenge plots are utterly ineffective against the various members of the Survival Club. Yayoi’s plans are so crap that, without fail, she must be rescued by Miou each time she gets in over her head with another club member.

By the end, the evidence of these ‘saves’ convinces the whole school that Miou and Yayoi are an item, which serves as a finishing blow and, for the first time in her life, Yayoi is forced to skip a day of school. (end of act 1)

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Act Two: Miou, Momoka, Kaya, Urara and Maya watch a B-rate Yakuza film. Momoka thinks it was stupid and shrugs off ‘the silly ending’ which involves everyone in the clan betraying each other and the winner being shot dead by a previously fallen, assumed to be dead ally.

Then Sakura rolls a fancy office chair into the club room (which she’s presumably earned by sleeping with the school principal) and everything goes sideways. Suddenly dressed as Yakuza, the girls launch into gunfight mode and everyone is gunned down predictably by Momoka. Momoka even manages to avoid the ‘last man standing gets shot at the end’ moment…

…Only to be killed when she sits in the office chair which suddenly falls over. (end of episode)

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Sabagebu! mixes up its formula this week with an extra long opening arc dedicated to a new character in Yayoi and the decadent crazy that is Ootori Miou. From the opening scene in a Student Council meeting, where Miou responds to the Prez’s call for questions with “Why do our teeth squeak when we eat Spinach?” we see how difficult it is to be a sane person in this show. You either turn your brain off like Miou’s followers among the other club presidents (who consider her antics “pure”) or you get made like the Yayoi and Momoka.

Unfortunately for Yayoi, her veins contain none of the ice-fire-blood violence fuel that propels our dear Momoka.

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“Remember viewers, there’s nothing a machosist hates more than a fake sadist.”

Starting with Urara, because beating on a masochist should be easy, Yayoi launches a string of plots to snipe away members of the Survival Club and ultimately ruin Miou’s happiness. Each plot is reasonably funny, though none match the final show down, where Yayoi discovers Miou’s weakness is the zen-like kindness of an elderly lunchlady and a hatred of cafeteria veggies.

Seriously! How could anything top a young woman’s decent into madness leading her to physically and mentally become an old woman obsessed with tea and kindness? Yayoi is so into her role that, by the end, she can’t even deliver a finishing blow and is only ‘saved’ by relentless gossip that she works in the cafeteria to be closer to Miou each day.

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The yakuza arc was smirk-worthy but predictable and, honestly, we’ve seen this set up before. Without the context for bad yakuza films, which I don’t have, there wasn’t much going for it.

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Over all, this was a great episode! It delivered tons of chuckles and character development (through the Prez’s dossiers on each girl) and Yayoi is a reasonable opponent to throw at the club. It even closes post credits with an unexpected zoom in on Yayoi taking a bath and being appalled that she’s being filmed!

Break that fourth wall baby! Break it good!

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Danganronpa: The Animation – 02

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Just before Lights Out, a scared Maizono visits Naegi, who agrees to swap rooms with her for the night. In the morning, she doesn’t show up for breakfast, he finds her in his bathroom with a knife in her belly. Monobear summons them to the gym to announce the rule that in order to “graduate”, one must not only kill someone, but get away with it. To that end, there will be periodic “class trials” to determine who killed whom. Junko objects to this and steps on Monobear, but he punishes her by having her impaled by numerous spears. The class suspects Naegi killed Maizono, and as he’s investigating Maizono’s murder, the hour of the trial arrives.

And so we bid adieu to idol Maizono Sayaka and model Enoshima Junko; we hardly knew either of ye. Maizono died under mysterious circumstances, and many cryptic clues were presented before and after it happened, and we have at least five possible culprits in mind, (in no particular order):

  • Togami Byakuya (he was the last person to arrive for breakfast, and expressed a willingness to do what was necessary)
  • Naegi (he may have done it then repressed the memory)
  • Maizono herself (suicide after learning of the fate of her idol group and snapping)
  • Oogami Sakura (the brutal marks all over the dorm suggest immense brute strengt;, resemble her battke scars)
  • Kirigiri Kyouko (she wants to limit confrontations with Monobear, and so “obeys the rules”)

It may be none of the above, but at least we won’t be executed for being wrong, like the class. This is an odd choice for a villain who wants the spectacle to last as long as possible; it could all be over at the first trial. However, because this is just the second episode, we know they’ll either choose correctly, or something will come up and postpone the trial. Either way, while he may be thoroughly stupid looking and sounding, Monobear is deadly serious, as poor Junko found out.


Rating: 6 (Good)

Stray Observations:

  • The blood in this episode was violet rather than red, possibly to avoid blur censoring. Star Trek VI did the same thing, making Klingon blood a pinkish-violet in order to avoid an “R” rating from the MPAA. We don’t mind.
  • We have to imagine the supplemental rules about getting away with the murder and class trials weren’t in the handbook until Monobear announced them, which is why not even someone who read the whole thing (Kirigiri, Togami, and Ishimaru, for instance) knew about them.
  • Maizono and Junko are blacked out in the body count at the end of the episode, and their 8-bit sprites are x’d out in the credits.

Blood-C 11

Tsutsutori, Nono, Nene, and Tokizane reveal themselves as actors in a grand experiment with Saya as the star. She is a not-quite-human entity with superhuman powers. Fumito captured her and began fooling around with her memories. Whenever she attacks an elder bairn, she’s drunk its blood, making her remember some of her real memories of meeting with Fumito. The teacher, twins and Tokizane are tired of this, and want out, so they try to restore her memories permanently to stop the cycle. But they run into Amino and Itsuki, and eventually Fumito also shows up, likely to stop them…

When it was finally clear last week that the whole story to that point had been some kind of simulation, I immediately thought of the Truman Show. Like Truman, Saya is initially utterly convinced that the world she’s living in are real and her friends are really that. It’s pretty cruel for it to turn out to be a production. Even more amusing is how different the actors are from the characters they’ve played: Nono and Nene are immoral, conniving, vain bitches, Tokizane is a greedy, selfish coward, and the teacher is…well, she was always flirty with Saya, so she didn’t change much. Class Rep Itsuki is still a stickler for the rules, but without the friendliness of his character. One of the best lines of the series came from one of the evil twins: “How are these uniforms realistic in any way?”

It turns out they are: black and red hides the blood. Just like a tiny, isolated village makes it easier to keep Saya involved. I’m surprised the elder bairns are real, and in fact still a threat (though not to the main cast, who bear protective talismans), and seem to also be variables in Fumito’s experiment. This is why they kept asking her to “honor the contract” – she was killing them during Shrovetide, a period when it’s okay to eat humans. Throughout all of this explanation though, Saya is fairly inert. She just kneels there on all fours, breathing heavily, unable and/or unwilling to take it all in. But however much she knows, now we know why those school scenes were so tacky!


Rating: 4

Blood-C 9

Murphy’s Law is in full force as a crustacean-like elder bairn kills Saya’s entire class, getting cheap shots in as she battles it. When it takes Yuuka, her last close friend, she goes into red-eye mode and viciously slays the beast. Only the class chairman survives, along with Tokizane, who skipped school. After her teacher asks her if she killed everyone, Saya wakes up, numb with loss, but also lost herself; beset by images in her head whenever she tries to remember anything.

So, after establishing a very pleasant, chummy atmosphere at Saya’s high school – a safe haven of sorts – the last few episodes have methodically, mercilessly, and effortlessly torn to gory shreds any sense of security and virtually all solace. All is lost. Saya proves yet again that while she excels at slaying elder bairns, her everyone-protecting skills leave much to be desired. Of course one can hardly blame her; circumstances couldn’t be worse, as the venue is rife with defenseless, horrorstruck students. It doesn’t take much for them to all become corpses or simply piles of miscellaneous pieces in pools of blood. It’s sickeningly visceral, horrible stuff.

It’s also obvious that if we ever get straight answers about who exactly Saya Kisaragi is, what her true role is, who she promised, and why she keeps eating grimauve, it may not be till the bitter end. The series continues to keep its cards close, and despite all the hints the dog is throwing her way, Saya remains extremely confused about her raison d’être. If she is the town’s protector, well, she’s failed. Dozens of people are dead and she couldn’t stop it. At this point, I’d be questioning whether what I’m doing is right or even beneficial too.


Rating: 3.5

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Tokizane learns about the elder bairns when he sees Saya finish one off; he pledges to help her however he can. Saya’s father seems out of it, as Saya even find him unconscious at home (he’s last seen talking to Fumito). The dog visits Saya in the bath, urging her to remember who she made her promise to. Three days pass without an attack, but the day the school re-opens, Saya’s classroom is viciously attacked by a new elder bairn.

Things are just not going well for Saya’s Pledge to Protect. Many of her classmates are slaughtered like pigs in front of her, and the episode actually ends before we see her take her katana to it. To be fair, this is a particularly nasty customer, teeming with spiky legs the size of tree trunks and a massive maw. Now her two worlds are irreversibly mixed, and so far it’s like oil and water – they’re not getting along. Kudos to the writers for lulling us into such a bubbly false security in earlier episodes, only to meticulously, mercilessly tear it to shreds in the last few.

Part of me is starting to suspect that the kind young cafe owner, Fumito, could the person Saya made the promise to. It’s just a wild guess, but I can’t think of another reason for him to still be around having such strange scenes as the one with Saya’s dad. Like Saya, we’re still very much in the dark, and Saya’s too busy killing bairns to do any sleuthing, even if she were so inclined. For now, I have to wonder whether she’ll be able to slay the bairn in her classroom before it can kill anyone else.


Rating: 3.5

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Not only has Saya begun to doubt whether she can keep her promise to protect everyone (so far, she has good reason to), she isn’t even sure when she made the promise…or to who. Now the dog has decided to start talking to her, but isn’t ready to give her any definite answers…only that he’s supposed to fulfill a made wish. Her father is comforting, but silent. The restaurateur is still a little creepy, and her teacher seems to know too much.

From time to time the series has transitioned to the scene in the mansion with the floating orbs of blood. Finally, we see that Saya herself was once in this mansion, staring across the table at Mr. Ominous Voiceover. We don’t exactly understand the nature of the request yet, only that he meant for Saya to be an experiment of some kind. I can’t help but speculate that this guy may be responsible for her red-eye superpowers.

She definitely need them this week, as the latest elder bairn is not only very chatty and mocking, but also has eight arms that threaten to julienne (Sayenne?) her. She goes into red-eye mode and bisects him, but not before he lets off some very self-doubt inducing slogans. Also, Tokizane shows up just when she’s coming out of her trance, kneeling in a pool of blood. Something tells me he isn’t freaked out.


Rating: 3.5

Shiki 21.5

After watching numerous seasons of Buffy and True Blood, I feel I entered Shiki with a little more sympathy for vampires as people than the typical person. Especially during the last extra episode (#20.5, reviews here), I noted there was virtually no way I could root for the ordinary humans, whose savage, sadistic, predatory behavior was no better than the worst vampires. Sure, they’d been taken to the edge of desperation, and their loved ones were being killed, but I didn’t care. Tying up Nao and the others to burn in the dawn is not appropriate behavior for any decent being in my books.

Anywho, this episode does things a little differently, essentially giving us an abridge re-telling of the entire series and its five months of horror, almost entirely from the perspective of a new character, Maede Motoko, a devoted mother of two with Sonic the Hedgehog hair! Aaaand I’m sympathizing with the humans again! Seriously, to say Motoko had a rough half-year is an epic understatement. Her family is taken by her one at a time, starting with her father-in-law and husband. When her daughter becomes pallid and eventually dies, she kills her horrid mother-in-law. When her son shows the symptoms, she sits in a bathtub with him until he dies and decomposes.

Finally, she goes to the top of a hill and starts the fire that eventually envelops the village and requires all the survivors to evacuate, having descended totally into madness. Her transformation from cheerful mother to smelly ranting lunatic is extremely rapid and disconcerting. Shiki proves yet again it is not for the faint-hearted. The episodes final moments – in which she is consumed by the flames, grinning from ear to ear – just gave me flat-out c h i l l s, something Shiki does a lot. It was also nice to hear the quirky, eclectic soundtrack once more.


Rating: 3.5

Blood-C 6

Saya is good at killing elder bairns, and by extension protecting her friends and her town...from a distance. But as it’s been demonstrated, once an elder bairn has a victim in sight, Saya can’t do much to save them. She can’t fight and protect Nene at the same time. And so Nene becomes the first of Saya’s classmates to die. The scene is portrayed with all the necessary horror. We knew it was pretty much inevitable, but it still hurts to watch (though less bloody thanks to network censors).

Just when you thought, well, she has an identical twin, they wouldn’t kill off both in the same episode…well, they do. Nono doesn’t just die, she’s possessed by her own shadow while pleading for Saya to tell her where her sister is. The shadow consumes her and Saya, and when Saya defeats it, Nono is torn to pieces in a rain of blood. I cannot overstate the gruesomeness – especially when neither Nene nor Nono had anything to do with this elder bairn business until that cliffhanger. The contrast from the lighter moments of the series couldn’t be more stark. Hell, they couldn’t be more lannister.

Fumito is as creepily supportive as ever, Tokizane wants Saya to spill the beans about what’s troubling her, and that little doglike animal that’s been showing up so often finally talks to her, telling her to “wake up”. Saya is coming to grips with the fact she’s little more than a deadly weapon with no free will of her own, not a shield that can protect her friends. And I don’t think it’s helping her sanity. One thing’s certain: the lighthearted school moments are over with.


Rating: 4

Blood-C 5

This week’s Blood-C was bangin’, switchin’ up the formula a bit, whereby the battle comes first, then the lighter high school stuff. Then it does something else: it finally combines those worlds, much to Saya’s horror. We’ve arrived at the crossroads, people. The bloody crossroads.

The latest elder bairn she kills once again refers to the contract between them and humans. We don’t know exactly what the contract is, but it probably means looking the other way and letting them eat humans in exchange for relative peace, or something. Regardless, the doubt and confusion stirring in Saya starts spilling into her normal life. And it hurts her lil’ noggin, too.

A thunderstorm cancels her gym class, so they tell horror stories instead. After a half-hearted attempt by the class prez, the teacher steps in and, well, there’s no other way of saying it: she describes exactly what’s going on on the other side of Saya’s life. She’s even about to reveal the answer Saya wants so badly – what is the contract? – when Saya faints. Tokizane, who has exchanged knowing looks with her all along, catches her. I really hope this guy does someting soon. Something.

Back home at the temple, her classmate Nene, who wanted to hear the teacher’s story, comes to apologize, and boom, a massive elder bairn bursts out of the ground behind her. Shit just got real. It’s a cliffhanger, but damn, it’s a good one. After seeing a woman Saya saved earlier scream and recoil in horror when she held out her bloody hand to help her, I’m guessing some of Saya’s friends will be equally horrified when they see the bairn-slayer. Which is unfortunate, because she’s awesome.


Rating: 4

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This is such a schizophrenic show, but that’s why I love it. The light high school scenes remain as bubbly as ever, though Saya’s classmates are aware of the missing (now dead) baker. But the night battle with the elder bairn(s) this week are more intense than ever, with MBS seeing the need to censor some of the more disagreeable gore. Saya was constantly on her toes, and it truly looked like she could lose this time around.

The last bairn she killed told her to “honor the covenant.” She dutifully tells her father this, and he basically tells her not to listen to their lies; it’s part of their tactics. But this new one – an evil Big Bird flanked by two acid-spewing sidekicks, has a lot more to say. The covenant apparently amounts to letting his kind get away with eating a few people here and there (which he does), in exchange for not bothering Saya’s kind. He dismisses Saya as nothing but her daddy’s tool.

Saya goes all red-eyed and manages to take out the bird-headed menace, but not before he takes three victims – villagers she wasn’t able to save. Not only was this the toughest and most taxing battle to date; she wasn’t able to fulfill her promise to protect everyone. And now her head is full of all this “covenant” talk, despite her father wanting her to fight, not think. As for Fumito…her just kinda creeped me out this episode. What is he hiding?


Rating: 4

Blood-C 3

Another easygoing first half, in which Saya sings to herself some more, is come on to by her teacher, eats lots of cake and guimauve, and bowls over her friends by confessing she doesn’t own a television! Everything is so peachy! Well, we knew that wouldn’t last in the second half; as a town baker goes missing for several days. The police warn everyone not to stay out at night. Can Saya and her dad keep this stuff secret?

I’m not sure how, as the baker meets an extremely gruesome death at the hands of a dastardly new elder bairn – taking the form of a train. I really love the duality of Saya’s character in scenes like this; not so much as flinching even in the face of absolutely horrid things, and even cracking a satisfied (sadistic?) smirk while dispatching this latest foe in a cloud of blood. I guess she should be happy she doesn’t wear a white school uniform, but still, she must be putting her dry cleaners’ kids through college!

The battles in Blood-C are the best of this season so far: quick, good old-fashioned one-on-one battles full of constant peril and lots of icky gore. No babbling at one another, no silly inner dialogue about tactics. Though before the bairn dies, it tells her to “Honor the Covenant.” Not sure what that means, but I’m sure it’ll come into play soon.


Rating: 3.5

Black Lagoon: Roberta’s Blood Trail 4

Roanapur has become a great big sopping sponge utterly saturated by blood, a lot of it Roberta’s. Since taking ALL THE DRUGS IN THE WORLD, she’s gone from redlining the crazy-o-meter to liquifying the needle. She probably spent her few off-camera moments licking windows. But the one wild (literally feral) card Rock can’t predict is unquestionably the crazy-ass core of this OVA series. Some want her. Others want to be her.

While I’m aware of the mission, Rock has a loftier scheme in play. He’s spewing virtually nothing but metaphors at this point, and he’s developed an evil smirk. Garcia and Fabiola want to get Roberta back, but at this point that seems pretty unlikely. Their Roberta was lost a long time ago; they’ve been chasing an ideal that doesn’t exist.

Interesting too how Fabiola seems to have Revy totally figured out. Revy is chasing an ideal too; her ideal of Rock. The raving Rock of this episode is a completely different person from the squirelly salaryman of yore. Yet Revy has to believe he’s still the same ol’ innocent Rock. If he isn’t, he’s no different from all the other maniacs in her life. Revy’s had too rough a life to know that much about love, but she seems to have been in love with Rock for some time. She just can’t or won’t acknowledge or act on it.

While he goes on about ridding Roanapur of “troublemakers”, I’m left wondering if Rock even cares about the conclusion. Right now the journey seems to be all he cares about; the process; not the result or destination. As Lagoon Company heads up into the Golden Triangle with a cargo of army dudes, Roberta is hot on the trail on a jetliner. The endgame draws near. Rating: 4

Blood-C 1 – First Impressions

I have never watched any of the Blood franchise before this new series by CLAMP and Production I.G., so I know nothing about it. But after watching a recently-released extra episode of Shiki (review pending), I was looking forward to another summer horror series to sink my teeth into. Little did I know that the horror came in the form of twin gingers who say everything at the same time!

No, I’m not talking about the Weasleys, and no, it wasn’t really any big deal. The twins in question are just classmates of the protagonist, a bespectacled girl named Saya Kisaragi. She’s kind, bubbly, easily distracted, a bit of a klutz, and not punctual. She sings to the beat of her footsteps, and is generally very upbeat. But she’s also extremely athletic and a shrine maiden. Her duty requires her to go out in the night and slay things; presumably evil things. It isn’t pretty, but she manages to get the job done. She leads a complicated life. I like ‘er!

I actually enjoyed the contrast between her sugary-sweet day life and the malice that lurks beneath – and that between the no-nonsense Slayer Saya and the full-of-nonsense School Saya. Obviously she can’t let others know about her duties; they might end up in danger, or at the very least think she has a screw loose. But I can’t help but expect her two worlds to come crashing together, and there will probably be some of that titular blood.

Her battle in a shallow lake with an “elder bairn” was really nicely orchestrated and was also built up very nicely, both by all the lightheartedness of the first half, and numerous long pauses of pregnant silence. These moments of unease come at perfect times. The stylized character design, with long legs and small heads, took a bit of getting used to, but its not nearly as strange as Shiki, which also grew on me gradually. Even though I’m a Blood newbie, this wasn’t hard to follow, and I’m looking forward to how it progresses. Rating: 3.5