Cardcaptor Sakura: Clear Card – 06

CCS definitely seems to be building towards something on the Clear Card and Cloaked Figure fronts, but the show is more than content to apportion that plot in dribs and drabs. To be honest, so am I—Sakura and her circle friends are likable enough that I’m just fine hanging out with them as their normal lives unfold.

While out shopping Sakura runs into Akiho, and discovers that she carries around a little stuffed rabbit, and considering Kero-chan pretends to be a stuffed animal, I wouldn’t be surprised if Akiho had a familiar of her own who stayed still around others.

As a newcomer to the franchise, I’m also chuffed to finally meet Keroberos in his “true form” as a great winged cat; he whips that out when another face from past shows, Meiling, has a Facetime call with Sakura.

Our only check-in on the Cloaked Figure mystery is when Sakura suddenly spaces out and ends up in a strange space filled with giant shimmering clocks and gears. She asks the figure questions but as always the figure says nothing.

From there, it’s back to school, where both Sakura and Akiho demonstrate their aptitude for reciting Japanese, and Tomoyo invites Akiho to try out the Chorus Club, recruiting Syaoran to accompany them on the piano as they sing a lovely duet.

The Clear Card of the Week is almost an afterthought, as ominous sounds of a camera recording turn out to be the “Record” Card, which Sakura secures without any difficulty whatsoever. I guess not every card-capture involves hazards!

Another week, another card for Sakura, while Syaoran seems increasingly frustrated he can’t sense them the way he could sense the Clow Cards of past series. Whether that inability will curdle into resentment or envy, creating a rift in his budding romance with Sakura, remains to be seen.

But then, a lot remains to be seen: who Akiho is, who the cloaked figure is (if not Akiho), whether Momo can move and talk like Kero, what Syaoran is keeping from Sakura and why, and what exactly the deal is with all these dang Clear Cards.

Juuni Taisen – 02

Poor Boar is now a puppet of Rabbit’s along with Snake; he’s in the lead. Turns out Monkey (Shuryuu) interrupted her own attempt to form a pacifist alliance by smashing the floor. In doing so, she thwarted a preemptive strike she sensed from one of the others, though apparently she doesn’t suspect the sleepy Rat (Nezumi).

Having holed up in an underground parking garage, Dog (Dotsuku) is our primary POV character this week, and we hear more of his inner thoughts than the words of anyone else. Upon meeting Chicken (Niwatori), he believes he’s better off agreeing to her request to team up, as she possesses a valuable skill by which she can see through the eyes of all of the birds in the city; pretty handy.

Unfortunately for Dog, he’s too confident he can control Niwatori, to the point he’s drugging her with a supersoldier “poison” that powers her up and leads to her crushing his face. Whether Chicken was putting on a meek innocent act all along until then or really couldn’t control the strength Dog gave her, it looks like Dog is now out of the game, marking the second straight POV character who fell by spending too much time in their head and not enough time being very careful.

I don’t know if the same pattern will be followed next week or the week after that, but I got an odd, satisfying feeling of finality from both Boar and Dog’s stories this week; they went as far as they could go, even if they didn’t know they were at the end of their respective roads until it was too late to turn back. There’s a super-abridged version near the end of Horse seeking out Ox as a fellow “moderate”, only to be charged at by Ox like the train behind him.

The only alliance that seems reliable is the one between Rabbit, Snake and Boar, and you can’t really call it that since Snake and Boar no longer have free will, heartbeats, or jewels in their chests. Nevertheless, I liked the parting shot that combined bloody horror of an undead Boar with a Hitchcockian mass of birds surrounding her.

Considering the ominous calculation of this parting scene, I’d wager SuperChicken is primed to peck somebody.

Juuni Taisen – 01 (First Impressions)

“My, such a new building, completely abandoned.” A curious opening line, as the entire city surrounding the building is similarly abandoned. The building, and the city, have been prepared for the Holy Grail Zodiac War, and this lady, “The Boar”, is one of its twelve participants, all with an animal aesthetic matching a certain sign of the Chinese Zodiac.

My immediate thought was this is a Fate-style Battle Royale, with anthropomorphized Zodiac signs instead of historical figures. There’s a (mostly) civil opening ceremony (only one person is dead before the official start) with an “Observer” named Duodecuple. Rather than command seals, each warrior gets a black jewel they must swallow. Whoever collects all eleven jewels (presumably by cutting them out of people) will get one wish of their choice.

We’re even introduced to The Boar as her backstory cuts in and out of the present-day festivities, explaining how she, and not the little sister her abusive asshole father chose, is the Ino Family representative in the Juuni Taisen. Basically, she ordered her sister to kill more and more people in more gruesome ways until she finally went mad and killed herself. So we know this Boar lady is someone who won’t even let blood get in the way of achieving her goals. She’s also, well, pretty goddamn evil.

We only get the slightest bits and pieces from the other eleven members, (whose character designs range from boring and obvious to outrageously wacky) through Boar’s lens, though she clearly has it in for Monkey, who has a Class Rep aura about her, and asks if anyone will help her win so she can wish to bring everyone back. Ultimately only the narcoleptic and the singularly crazed, half-naked Rabbit-Boy (who already killed someone) join her.

Then the ground literally opens up around the twelve, resulting in a bit of chaos Boar thinks she’s prepared for, what with her dual automatic rifles with unlimited ammo. However, she didn’t consider that Bunny killed the guy so he could turn him into a zombie thrall, which is what he does because he’s a necroman”tist” (not “cer”).

All of a sudden, the one character we’ve spent any meaningful time with, and the only one whose thoughts we’ve heard, is on the edge of death at the very beginning. She pegged herself as one of the top 3 challengers in this battle, but…here we are.

Juuni Taisen is, in a word, serviceable. It looks very nice, with imaginative and often just-plain-weird design by the creator of Arakawa Under the Bridge and some very smooth and competent combat animation.

Cons include the Boar not being that likable a character and there being nothing about this premise that’s particularly original or exciting. But as it airs on Tuesday, which is, in my experience, usually a light day for anime, so…we’ll see.

Daitoshokan no Hitsujikai – 11

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When first faced with their clubroom predicament, courtesy of the scheming Aoi (who thinks she’s doing the Shepherd’s good work), for a moment I wondered “Gee, why don’t they just use their superpowers to get rid of the excess members? Then I remembered this wasn’t InoBato. ;)

Kyoutarou also tells everyone to look on the bright side: the Happy Project is still alive and kicking and they’re all together, so who cares about a clubroom? This is true, but it’s also refreshing, as so many other club-focused anime make the loss of their venue seem like the end of the world.

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Kyoutarou tells Nagi about losing the room, but she either forgets, or specifically wants to hang off of Kyoutarou and ask him what he wants for dinner to torture Tsugumi, who does not like hearing the words “Nagi” and “last night” in the same sentence.

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When the StuCo (really Aoi) schedules a celebrity alumnai-fueld symposium on the same day as Minafest, and the club brainstorms their next move, Kyoutarou receives a vision of the future in which a stage light falls on Tsugumi’s head, apparently killing her. With that, everything concerning the club room, Minafest, or the harem situation falls by the wayside for Kyoutarou. All that matters is changing that future.

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Over a Nagi-prepared repast of pre-packages shumai, Kyoutarou tells Nagi he wants to become a Shepherd. Yes, even after everything Nagi did to get him to hook up with another girl. If he’s not a Shepherd, he doesn’t have the power to stop what will happen to Tsugumi. From his perspective, it’s better for her to forget him than for her to be dead. I can’t say I disagree with him. Set aside, for now, is the Shepherd Boss’ implication that between Kyou and Nagi only one can become a Shepherd.

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When the boss starts erasing Kyou’s book, Tsugumi, on the phone with Tamamo and talking about him, senses something is amiss when she can’t recall something she had deemed unforgettable. She races to Kyoutarou’s in the rain, where Nagi is conveniently absent that night, and tells him she doesn’t want to forget him, planting a big ol’ smooch on him.

After showering (from running in the rain), Kyoutarou tells her he has to do this, and she begs him to take her with him. He tells her everyone will forget her if he does and asks if she’s okay with that, and she turns the question back around on him. “It’s for the best,” says Kyou, not mentioning this is the only way to save her life. “I hate Shepherds,” Tsugumi says, crestfallen. “Especially Kakeis who have become Shepherds.”

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The next day Kyoutarou receives and urgent call from Kana telling him something’s wrong with Senri. He races to her house to find Senri dressed like a nurse and Kana dressed as a bunny, and they totally ambush him with their feminine wiles. He manages to fight them off and get an explanation, which is that Kana read on the internet that this was how you kept a guy from going away.

While yes, this scene was a bit excessive, it did reinforce what Kyoutarou will be giving up when he becomes a Shepherd. It also shows that while Senri and Kana can put on the charm, the two come on a bit too strong to be serious contenders for his heart. I appreciate the teamwork, though…as I’m sure a part of Kyou does.

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Back at school, Tamamo demands an explanation from Kyou, not for his recent visit to Senri’s, but for a newspaper article about him “selling his body” to the StuCo in exchange for making Minafest an official event. Kyou assures them it’s just another one of Aoi’s tricks. He’s not going anywhere…at least for now.

Senri visits Kyou on the roof (while Nagi stays out of sight), and tells him she’s decided to sing at Minafest, not for the sake of anyone but him and the other Happy Project members. Asking him if this was a future path he saw, he responds that she chose it all on her own. Senri makes him close his eyes again, but this time she kisses him…on the forehead.

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The rest of the club finds out about Senri singing, and the rumor spreads throughout the school, increasing interest in Minafest. Tsugumi and Senri even go on the school radio to promote it, and Senri takes the opportunity to ask Miyu to be her emcee, in an effort to repair their relationship (that Senri is going to perform heartens her pink-haired friend).

Aoi hears of these countermoves but isn’t concerned; she’s confident she’ll be proven right in her belief (fueeld by texts from her “shepherd”) that the library club shouldn’t exist. Meanwhile, it seems President Mochizuki may be on to her subordinate’s treachery.

Aoi may not even be totally wrong, though, as Kyoutarou can’t seem to find a path where Tsugumi won’t get killed at Minafest…even though finding one was precisely the catalyst that led him to become a Shepherd in the first place!

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Servant x Service – 11

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Worried that things could get awkward between them, Yamagami searches for Hasebe with the Chief, who ends up getting accidentally sold at the bazaar outside the office. Yamagami gets him back by offering a plaid bunny the girl thinks is cuter. Miyoshi decides to head into the city to clear her head, but ends up encountering every single person from work, and getting depressed. Her date with Tanaka doesn’t go as badly as she feared, and even agrees to go on another one.

Hasebe may have caught on something quite profound: he’s been living a carefree life, being good at many things but hardly making an effort as he’s sailed through it. It’s cruel yet appropriate, then, that he finds himself now paying for all that…carefreeness by falling for a girl with absolutely no notion of or experience with romance, who may never, no matter what Hasebe does, fully grasp the concept of a guy liking her in that way, as opposed to any other girl on earth. Yamagami is exceedingly adorable, but she’s a tough nut to crack, and it doesn’t bode well that Hasebe still hasn’t impressed upon her just how special she is to him. Realizing that wooing her will take far more effort than he’s ever put into anything has Hasebe feeling more outwardly gloomy than ever before, and it’s sweet that Yamagami admits she doesn’t mind that side of him.

But enough about them, the balance of this episode was about Miyoshi, finally! Her aimless day off – and all the aimless days off her co-workers and acquaintances are having depiction of the average office workers’ average day off. Tired from the week, but also faced with a sudden period devoid of structure, no one engages in particularly thrilling activities, instead ending up in a bookstore, at an arcade, or simply sitting on a bench in the park. Still…it’s not work, right? And once you get past the fact that Tanaka talked about Hasebe for an inordinate amount of time, had nothing else interesting to say, and let Miyoshi pass out from a sip of wine, the date actually didn’t go that bad! We can only hope Hasebe’s date with Lucy goes so smoothly…


Rating: 6 (Good)

Servant x Service – 06

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In the first half, the manager Momoi wants to interact more with the newcomers. He spends time individually with Hasebe, Yamagami and Miyoshi, who also meet his daughter Kanon. Hasebe is worried about Touko not having any friends, but Kanon is one such friend. In the second half, Miyoshi’s daily interactions with Mrs. Tanaka, Touko and Momoi wear her down into a beginner’s slump. Hasebe lets her vent, but she ends up depressing him. Tanaka asks her to marry her grandson, but after advising the others, she turns down the offer as tactfully as possible.

Among other things, this episode underlines how everyone ended up working as civil servants at the ward office for different reason. Yamagami, perhaps the simplest character due to her insufferable innocence, simply wanted to get a good job so she could afford as many books as possible (she loves to read). Hasebe’s father was in this business, and he had nothing else going on, so he ended up in it too. Miyoshi was in the middle of grad school, but her parents tricked her into coming home by lying about her father’s health. Considering how Miyoshi ended up at this job, and how stressful dealing with the people she has to deal with can be, we’re not surprised she was the first of the three newbies to consider quitting, if only for a moment.

She’s even given another reason: one of her clients wants her to quit so she can marry her responsible banker grandson, which might give her an opportunity to return to her studies. She politely refuses, but Mrs. Tanaka hasn’t given up. In addition to fleshing out Miyoshi’s situation and giving her a potential out, it also, strangely enough, shows that despite his surface sheen, he isn’t entirely happy with his situation either. Which means Yamagami is the only newbie totally happy with where she is and what she’s doing…though she’s also there to confront the one who allowed her ridiculous name pass…


Rating: 6 (Good)

Kyousogiga – 01

For this newest version of Kyousogiga – the first having aired last December and the first of five episodes to air this year – we’ll forgo a synopsis, for two reasons. First; was less than ten minutes long. Second; we wouldn’t know where to begin. We’re not that well-versed in Doctor Who lore, we do know that the TARDIS is a vehicle that is small on the outside – a police box – and massively huge on the inside – containing all the amenities a Doctor would need for his travels. This >10min. episode reminded us of the TARDIS: within its tiny dimensions resides an entire universe.

A lot happens in that >10 min. A lot is covered. Could we make any sense of it, beyond the vague notion of a girl growing up strong and striking out in the world in search of her mother? No, but that’s not the point as we see it. The point is to just sit back and enjoy the artistry, the whimsy, the creativity. The point is to experience a lot in a little sliver of time. To see whole worlds and alternate worlds as through a microscope, but only a taste; a small glimpse. For this >10 min. window, we were transported somewhere else: somewhere we hope to learn more of in subsequent episodes.


Rating: 8 (Great)

Tiger & Bunny 22

Tiger faces the Heroes with no plan, Kaede drops in and restores their memories, but Barnaby is absent, so he remains convinced Kotetsu murdered his Auntie Sam. Tiger goes all “come at me bro” and the two former allies chase each other all over Sternbild. Meanwhile, the other heroes face Fake Tiger, and unmask him to reveal…well, they don’t actually show his face…

Well now, how could I have forgotten that Kaede was touched on the head by Maverick? Well I did…Oops! So she isn’t really a deus ex machina, because the logic of her character and the plot allowed her to have those powers.Still, her arrival in the knick of time was awfully convenient. As for the heroes, they’re extremely susceptable to mediocre stalling tactics.

The second half was all Tiger & Bunny going at it. Tiger decides for some reason that it’s better for him to lead Bunny away from the other heroes and make him give chase on a crowded expressway and through city intersections, putting thousands of Sterbilders at mortal risk. Considering Tiger’s commitment to protecting the public, this was either a lapse of judgement on his part – or the writers.


Rating: 3

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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

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The three men who were Barnaby’s first arrests end up murdered in prison by some kind of flame, and Fire Emblem is suspected. He isn’t the deepest character in the world, nor the least stereotypical gay, but Fire Emblem is a good guy with a good heart, who we the audience know would never take a life unless absolutely necessary. It’s very odd how he and Kotetsu just happen to be at the prison in question, testing his powers, when the true culprit strikes again. What was the point of implicating Emblem if he didn’t do it? Superpower profiling?

Anywho, this who mystery runs deep within Barnaby’s memory, as there was a man with an Ouroboros tattoo who killed his parents in a fire. The big bag black guy from the bomb scare also makes a fresh appearence, this time in a Porsche-tossin’ battle mecha. How he got this mecha, who he is, and what he’s up to are all things we don’t learn here. Barnaby suspects he’s somehow in league with his parents’ killer, and lays into him a bit before he takes their producer as a hostage. Then the baddie gets toasted with the same flame that claimed the inmates – coming from a next perched atop the Empire State Building a ways away. Perhaps the first supervillain has arrived at the scene – as his fire is more powerful than Emblems, he’ll be a force to be recokned with. Rating: 3