Overlord II – 08

Climb and Blue Rose prepare to go to battle with Eight Fingers, and Climb mentions his little sparring session with the great Stronoff. He wants Evileye to train him in magic, but she doesn’t think he’s ready or talented enough; Gagaran notes that Evileye is simply worried about Climb.

Evileye also mentions the fact that their colleague Lakyus may be having trouble controlling the cursed sword in her possession, and that leads to the mention of Momon and a quick overview of their great deeds. While they may be rivals, Evileye might also see them as potential allies in the fight against the Fingers.

Meanwhile, Sebas walks the city streets thinking about the position he’s in, and more specifically what needs to be done to keep Tsuare safe from her former tormentors. A haughty jackass happens to be stomping on a poor kid who happened to bump into him when Sebas arrives to put the bully in his place. Not only does climb witness Sebas’ good deed (and his fancy moves), but so does Brain Unglaus.

Climb tracks Sebas down and begs him to teach him the move he saw. Sebas does a quick character survey of Climb, learning from his hands, his sword, and his words that he’s a decent chap, then warning him that the move he shows him could kill him if he has no one he cherishes and vows to protect.

Climb has Princess Renner, so there should be no problem, but still…damn, Sebas is scary when you’re his target, even in a supposed training session. Climb manages not to die of shock, and proves he’s a loyal and true servant to his mistress. Brain witnesses all of this and introduces himself to Sebas and Climb…just as five assassins from Eight Fingers come for Sebas.

Now, I have no doubt that Sebas could have easily taken all five attackers on his own, but one doesn’t turn down an extra pair of hands, so he lets Brain and Climb take on two of the five. They handle themselves pretty well despite Climb’s greenness and Brain’s rust.

Sebas then decides to head to the brothel where he rescued Tsuare and nip things in the bud, and Climb and Brain join him. I must say, it’s an inspired party, and I look forward to seeing what they can do. I just wish this show didn’t look so dang rough.

Overlord II – 07

As “Momon” contends with mounting expenses for his various ventures, Gazef (who considers Ainz his savior) seeks out Climb, the princess’ bodyguard. He may have come from nothing and is young and inexperienced, and Gazef seems certain there’s a ceiling to his ability, but Climb is still someone who can hold his own against Gazef in battle, which is more than he can say for most other fighters.

Climb needs to be strong. His Princess, Renner (voiced by The Heroine herself), is called a “monster” by her own older brother, the second prince. There is all manner of wrangling and under-the-table deals between the royals and nobles and Eight Fingers in this kingdom. As such, despite noble warriors like Climb and Gazef, it’s a kingdom slowly rotting from the inside.

Princess Renner, one of the kingdom’s few principled, moral leaders, seeks to cut out that rot, but without any kind of military force of her own she needs willing swords and shields. She has them in the elite adventurer group Blue Rose, who we were introduced to last week burning Eight Fingers’ drug fields.

Renner welcomes Climb to a meeting she’s having with members of Blue Rose, who are preparing to hit other Eight Fingers targets. Renner doesn’t want Blue Rose’s Lakyus Aindra to sully her name and that of her families in such activities, but she has little choice, as she can’t very well send Climb out alone. Instead, Lakyus will “borrow” Climb.

Meanwhile, in the mansion seemingly occupied only by Sebas and Solution, the former has made Tuare a maid, much to the latter’s chagrin. Solution does not like humans and doesn’t see Tuare’s presence as anything other than a nuisance at best and a threat to Ainz at worst.

When unsavory parties arrive who wish to get Tuare back from Sebas, and they give him until the day after tomorrow to surrender either her or the “lady” of the house, Solution. These guys are obviously scum, but they and Solution are alike in one important way: neither of them give a shit about Tuare’s well-being.

Only Sebas does, and since only 41 or so people in the whole dang world are stronger than him, Sebas would normally get his way, and Tuare would remain safe. But even he can’t be everywhere at once, which is why when he goes for a stroll to think things over, Solution breaks protocol and contacts Lord Ainz to report the possibility that Sebas has turned on them.

That seems farfetched to me, in that so far all he’s done is demonstrated his empathy for humans and been a Good Samaritan for a woman who had nothing and no one else. If anything, if Ainz hears the whole story he’d find a way to applaud Sebas’ actions. Is Solution overreacting, or does she sense something Sebas a mere human such as myself cannot?

Aldnoah.Zero – 19

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Asseylum’s sudden awakening had a This Changes Everything feel about it. But what struck me was how very little actually changes, at least this week, due in part to the sheer momentum of the developments that preceded it.

Lemrina, posing as her sister, has galvanized the Orbital Knights with her proclamation. “The arrow is loosed,” as Slaine later says; there’s no putting it back in its quiver, making it that much tougher for those on the sidelines—Asseylum and Inaho—to make a measurable impact.

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The brass is pleased with the incremental progress they’ve made against the Orbital Knights (due mostly to Inaho, which, yes, is ridiculous, but I’ve moved on from that fact), to the point they seem to be pussyfooting, which pisses off Captain Magbaredge to no end. They also dismiss the princess’ address as inconsequential, which is pretty damn stupid, as it proves to be an immensely morale-boosting rallying call to the Knights. All of Earth’s small gains could go away in a flash because of that speech.

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One reason Asseylum’s eyes opening doesn’t have a marked impact on present events is that when Eddelrittuo reports it to Slaine, he doesn’t tell anyone else, including Lemrina. In fact, he lies to Lemrina that shes taken a turn for the worst. Lying is not a great way to start a marriage, and it’s clear this is a stopgap move to keep Lemrina—and the power she commands under her sisters’ guise—in his good graces.

While alone in her fancy Roman Space Bath, Lemrina tears up. Is she apprehensive about her sister dying for good…or des she know on some unconscious leve that Slaine is deceiving her?

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Of course, Slaine may have lied because while Asseylum’s eyes opened, at that point she hadn’t actually fully awakened. When she does, Slaine forgets about all the complications and lets himself be overcome by elation as he hears her say his name again.

Down on Earth, Orbital Knights loyal to (or at least tolerant of) him are confidently advancing against the Earth resistance forces; hundreds of people are being killed; his power is being consolidated thanks to Lemrina and Harklight; but in this moment Slaine couldn’t care less about any of that shit. All that matters is that Asseylum is awake and talking. And while not quite on par with Inaho waking up before Yuki, it’s still a fine, moving scene.

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Mazuurek is back from a far shorter hiatus than the princess, but he’s still amazed at how much has changed in his absence. His cordial conversation with Barouhcruz takes a turn for the disquieting when his rumors about Slaine having killed Saazbaum fall on deaf, and at least on the surface, outraged ears. With the loss of Marylcian, Barouchcruz has bent the knee to Slaine, and warns Mazuurek to choose wisely.

Slaine has so utterly taken control of the situation, and his rise so high and swift, those who once openly opposed him fall in line, grudgingly or not, to the point even if those all those rumors are true, it doesn’t matter anymore. Slaine is holding all the cards.

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Well…not all of them. Everything he has done has been for Asseylum…even if the truth is, she neither asks for nor wants any of it. And that seems to be all the more true when Slaine, about to present Asseylum with some very unironic blue roses, overhears Asseylum remembering watching the birds with Kaizuka, his nemesis in all things.

Yes, for all the power he has, he is still unable to capture that which he wants most: Asseylum’s heart. While en route to his next battle, Inaho himself almost seems to sense Asseylum talking about him—similar to how someone sneezes when they’re being talked about while they’re not around.

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It’s a very overt and uncomplicated irony Slaine is laden with, but I consider it a strong and compelling irony all the same. Slaine is only here because of Asseylum, but not only by his choice. The episode takes us back to his crashed capsule where he met the princess and became her ward and tutor.

Destiny has been on his side since that day, but now he must keep the existence of Asseylum saved him with her compassion secret from her sister, even while Asseylum harbors feelings for another. Not only would Lemrina discovering her sister is up and about crush her, the knowledge that Slaine had lied to her would crush her even more.

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Speaking of crushing, though, as all this drama goes on at the moon base, the Orbital Knights are finally starting to crush it on the battlefield, now that they have been (mostly) united under a single leader. They’re working together now, tabling their arrogance and closing one another’s weaknesses.

All of this simply gives Slaine, for all his romantic problems, all of the momentum in the world. So much so that even someone like Inaho—whose shipmates once again found time to reiterate how indispensable and awesome he is—seems caught off guard by the sheer pace of it all. If Earth is to have any chance at all, far stronger measures are going to have to be devised.

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Aldnoah.Zero – 18

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A blue rose, which represents love because it’s a rose, but also either a miracle or impossibility because it’s blue (because it doesn’t occur in nature) is one of those symbols that’s instantly obvious once you hear of it. Another example is a golden violin: looks great but can’t play music.

Our two protagonists Count Troyard and Ensign Kaizuka are both holding blue roses, but aren’t yet sure whether they represent the love that will never be, or the love that will triumph against all odds. But the fact they have them motivates everything they do.

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For Inaho, it’s taking every measure, both inside and outside the UE chain of command, to secure his princess. He and Rayet let Mazuurek free for this purpose, something they don’t disclose to Inko. Inko’s not-so-subtle and unsuccessful probing of Rayet for info keeps her left out of the loop, something Rayet regrets but can’t do anything about.

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As for Slaine, he’s been challenged to a duel, and he’s going through with it, reporting to less hard-line counts his intention to lead the battle once the duel is over, and getting their support based on the unique perspective he has as a non-Vers-born. He can see how Verisan hubris and arrogance has blinded them. That their unswerving belief that a sustained Terran resistance is impossible is the very opening that allows it to be possible.

Of course, the duel is happening because Lemrina invited Marylcian to the base. Whether she expected that exact outcome is unclear, but now, as I said last week, she will see if Slaine can truly be the one she can depend on. She offers herself to Slaine, even if she’ll only ever be a substitute for her sister. I have to think she has to be invested in Slaine’s victory, since Marylcian probably wouldn’t be happy when he finds out she’s not really Asseylum.

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Down on Earth, the Deucalion faces off against a generic Count-of-the-Week with a highly-specialized kataphrakt whose primary weapon only fires in straight lines. That means a surface battleship can use the curvature of the earth to stay out of the Count’s range, while her cannons’ parabolic trajectories can reach the Count’s kat.

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While not overly complicated or important in its scope, this is a nice little battle that perfectly illustrates (once again) the very flaws in the Orbital Knights Slaine seeks to root out. While he wasn’t planning to duel with Marylcian, backing out would have been pointless and probably sealed his doom.

Instead, by defeating this relic of outmoded thinking that isn’t getting the job done on Earth, Slaine stands to gain more legitimacy among his peers, and offer unassailable proof that the flaws he speaks of are real and are crippling progress.

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But first, he has to actually defeat Marylcian, whose Herschel makes for a bad match-up, as he attacks from every direction with his cloud of Bits-like drone cannons, so great in number and complex in motion even Tharsis’ predictive abilities are taxed to the hilt. There’s a point when Slaine is in retreat and really getting knocked around that I momentarily entertained the possibility that his blue rose meant impossibility, rather than miracle.

There’s also a nice moment after the Count-of-the-Week battle where Inaho is simply looking up with his robo-eye, watching the duel from the dock as a confused Inko looks on. It’s a great way to connect the two protags in three-dimensional space, and the fact that the distance between them is quickly closing.

Slaine has been making all the big bold moves while Inaho continues to observe and wait patiently for his chance.

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Of course, there’s no way Marylcian beats Slaine. It’s been beaten into us at this point that he’s far to stodgy an Orbital Knight to survive a plucky Terran gambit. Slaine, like Inaho has done countless times before, equips his opponent’s pride and superiority as a weapon against him, retreating into one of the moon base’s supply shafts in an apparent act of desperation or even cowardice.

Marylcian unwisely follows him in, unwittingly greatly lessening the unpredictability of his weapon. From then on, it’s elementary, with Slaine popping the hatch off Marylcian’s cockpit and ejecting him into space, thus ending the duel. A witnessing Barouhcruz grudgingly accepts the result, and Slaine’s grand rise proceeds apace.

In fact, after the duel it rises higher and faster than I thought it would, with Lemrina-as-Asseylum proclaiming she is starting a new kingdom on Earth, independent from Vers, and will take Slaine as her husband. His win over Marylcian sealed the deal for her, leaving just one complication: her comatose sister.

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In a creepy post-credits scene, she nearly shuts off all of Asseylum’s life-support systems before switching them back on, unable to outright kill her sister, but perfectly fine with replacing her in the world. She can float in that tube for the rest of her life while she rules her new kingdom. Here, Lemrina is starting to fall victim to the same Versian hubris that has claimed so many Orbital Knights: underestimating her enemy: in this case, her sister, who finally opens her eyes when Lemrina leaves the room.

Slaine’s big battles in orbit, Inaho’s smaller battles below, and Lemrina’s scheming and maneuvering continue to satisfy, all of it building to what should be one hell of a final confrontation. The main trio’s larger arcs have been nicely supplemented by smaller, more down-to-earth running stories of Inko, Rayet and Yuki. Finally activating the dormant Asseylum at this point is a welcome move I hope A/Z follows through on.

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Tiger & Bunny 24

Tiger & Bunny have to dodge the H-01’s attacks until their powers return, and even when they do, it has little effect on the ultra-powerful android. Rotwang tortures the other heroes by making them decide whether they should save only themselves or risk everyone dying. Kaede manages to escape her captors and take Rotwang out, but by then Bunny has already used the H-01’s weapon to destroy him while Tiger holds him down. The blast mortally injures Tiger in the process, or so it seems.

By the end of last week we were left with the questions: with the heroes’ bonds of friendship outlast their own desire for survival? Will Tiger & Bunny defeat the big bad android? Will Kaede be made safe? The answer to all three is yes. Duh. The execution of these objectives wasn’t the most elegant or innovative process it the world, but it got the job done. Rotwang’s typical villain-gloating and watching everyone’s reactions in the cells got awfully repetetive though.

So did what should have been epic climactic battle with the H-01, which consisted mostly of the two heroes releasing battle cry after battle cry, then bouncing off of him. But the one thing I didn’t expect was for Tiger to be killed in this last episode. Or was he? He certainly lost consciousness. It’s a big city; get him to a hospital already. If he is dead, it wasn’t the most necessary death in the world. It didn’t even make that much sense. Why is Tiger suddenly strong enough to hold the android? Why didn’t it simply contort its way out of his hold? We’ll never know.


Rating: 3

Tiger & Bunny 14

Click here to read more reviews of Tiger & Bunny, including the first thirteen episodes.

Tiger & Bunny serves up a fine start to its second half, fully validating my decision to continue blogging it despite a drawn-out arc with a silly villain. Not only are Tiger & Bunny enjoying more popularity than ever, they are also quite chummy with one another, with Barnaby discovering finally that while it may seem at times like something’s wrong with him, Kotetsu is a generous and selfless guy; exactly the hero he always strived to be.

Blue Rose/Karina has also been picking up on this, because she has a serious (and hilarious) crush on him. She spends much of the episode agonizing over whether it’s true, and if so, how on earth that could be possible. Tiger himself is surprised she’s single; he treats her like a daughter more than a potential love interest, and expected her to have more than one young boyfriend. But she doesn’t; she’s utterly obsessed with him. His obliviousness to this is forgivable, since to his credit she’s just acting strange, not necesarily affectionate; and Tiger would never believe a high schooler is in love with him.

This week’s story, in which T&B team up with Blue Rose to do a pop concert, is full of physical comedy, notably their practice sessions. The introduction of the ‘B-team Heroes” should also provide future comedy, and the return of the fake Barnaby as a backstage thief was also a nice touch, as was his accidental act of generosity towards Bison. But mostly, this episode served as a vehicle for three main developments: Tiger & Bunny’s growing friendship, Karina’s burgeoning feelings for Tiger; and finally, Tiger’s unexplained and sudden burst in power and speed. Alll will be developed as this summer half continues. Rating: 3.5

Tiger & Bunny 13

So it took about three weeks and half of the Heroes’ asses getting kicked for them to find out that – gasp – Jake Martinez has not one, but two powers: the barrier power, and telepathy. Interestingly, classically the least observant and analytical hero, Tiger, is the one who discovers this. Everyone else who fought him just kept rushing Jake until they could no longer stand. So the big bad of the season is dealt with through the use of…an ordinary stun grenade. Something that would disorient anyone. Sooo….why didn’t they use one at the beginning???

Well, the episode answers that question to my satisfaction: they needed to stall for time, and divert both Jake’s and Kriem’s attention while they set up a jamming signal for the exobots. Once they do, Fire Emblem, Blue Rose and Dragon Kid finally have something to do besides sit in a lounge and watch what we’re watching. I got the feeling that just about everyone played an important role this week, which is good. Also, the episode dispenses with excessive exhibition and starts right off the bat with Barnaby taking it to Jake. The combat animation is quick and sharp.

So yeah, I enjoyed this episode more than the previous two partially because it was better, but also because I knew this arc had to end eventually. It’s a bit of an anticlimax that Jake doesn’t even remember Bunny’s parents, but I’m glad that in the heat of the battle he didn’t say something to the effect of “Haha, I actually DO remember your parents! They begged for mercy yadda yadda yadda”; I feel like that line is overdone. He didn’t remember them, period. So, remember, if you want to hold a city hostage, have more than a team of just two people, both of whom are busy playing around while their robots are jammed and disabled. Rating: 3.5

Tiger & Bunny 9

Finally, Dragon Kid has some lines! Or, I should say, Pao-Lin. She gets a decent introduction, as this episode is centered heavily on the idea of family, with a particular emphasis on symbols or mementos that express love in absentia. The Kill Bill-style tracksuited Dragon Kid is a hardcore tomboy, who doesn’t want to be cute, even if she actually is. She’s young, she’s gifted, she’s Chinese…and apparently, she’s great with babies.

A babysitting episode could have been dreadful, but this series made it work, by having the baby be a telekinetic NEXT, and putting Tiger in charge. He’s a father and a widower (something that bemuses and confounds Blue Rose), with a loved but rarely-seen 9-year-old daugher, after all, while the other heroes at Apollon are all seemingly single and childless. Alas, Tiger & Bunny drink all night, and when Kid and the baby kidnapped. The mayor’s baby.

As for the kidnappers: a crack team of flamboyant, cool-looking NEXT sisters with an Elgrand Motorhome and senses of smell that can detect money, lies, and danger. Those are useful skills if you’re serial kidnappers, but as villans they were underused. Unfortunately those senses can’t do much against three full-fledged heroes, and the baby is recovered. Meanwhile, Bunny continues to remember his dark past and even hallucinates about it, keeping the pressure on him even in this otherwise non-ouroboros episode. Heck, that’s probably why he was up all night drinking!. Rating: 3.5

Tiger & Bunny 7

The new NEXT with the blue flames makes his debut this week, and he ain’t exactly what you’d call an ally. Seemingly killing anyone who may be involved with the Ouroboros crime syndicate that killed Bunny’s parents at just the right time, he even ruins a Hero TV live broadcast by toying with Tiger and Bunny. I have to say, the whole group kinda dropped the ball on this; all heros were mobilized, and yet Tiger and Bunny were on their own against this lunatic, whose name is…Lunatic.

Luny is, to my mind, an indie NEXT who has his own code of justice, one that some Hero fans share: Bad guys should be killed. Tiger doesn’t believe that, valuing and protecting all life, good or bad. But Lunatic has a much faster suit and flames hotter than Fire Emblem, so it will take a lot of effort and teamwork to bring him down.

Other than Lunatic’s intro, this episode feels a little light on substance. Bunny’s brief angsting period lasts only the length of a “charity show” he ducks out of, leading Blue Rose to partner with Tiger. Until charity was mentioned, I questioned the point of putting on shows when there’s clearly enough crime in the city to keep the heroes busy. Similarly, the scene with the oxygen relaxation chambers didn’t really go anywhere, though the guy yelling at Tiger to go to sleep was pretty funny. Rating: 3