Zombieland Saga: Revenge – 10 – How It Started / How It’s Going

After spending two weeks in the Meiji era with the exception of the final act of last week, when Yuugiri led Franchouchou in one of their best performances yet—and oh yeah, Saga is apparently an extremely long-lived person—we find ourselves a mere year in the past, before the EFS fiasco.

The idols are riding high on their success in the snow at Arpino, but that was only a crowd of five hundred people. But Koutarou, no less high on success, decides that Franchouchou have proven themselves legendary enough to fill the same stadium where Ai died. Her feelings about performing there aside, Ai knows right from the get-go it will be nigh impossible for them to scale up so much so fast.

Despite that, the girls put their faith in their manager and in their own considerable abilities, and even pros like Ai and Junko are swept up in the boundless optimism. Then, as we know, it all goes completely and utterly to shit. Because Koutarou didn’t bother to pre-sell any tickets, the amount of concert-goers who show up manage to fit what would be the soccer field’s penalty area.

While we’ve already been told this tale of woe before in super-abbreviated form, there’s something to be said for watching the disaster unfold in real time. Not even Saki can fight through the sheer dread of playing before a mostly empty venue, while their top fans decide not to call for an encore after the girls shamble off the stage, as it would be just too cruel.

You can really feel the pain of being on that stage in that stadium. They would never have been able to put on their best performance there. Koutarou really screwed the pooch on this one, and he initially reacts to the disaster by going on a weeks-long bender.

During these dark times, Franchouchou are splintered, then exchanged some recriminations, before Yamada Tae comes in and shocks everyone by not only buying her own dried squid with Koutarou’s cash, but doing her own makeup. Just by being Tae, she shows the others that they’ve been relying on Koutarou on everything for too long, and if they have to do non-idolly work to get out of their immense debt, then so be it.

That brings us up to speed. Fast forward nearly a year, and Koutarou announces to the girls that they will once again be performing at EFS for their revenge show. This time, they’re in a far better position to command a larger crowd: there’s the audience of Saki’s radio show, Lily’s inroads with the younger kids, Yamada’s legion of fans, Maimai’s high school, and the fact Iron Frill considers them rivals.

It almost feels like history repeating, but Koutarou is determined to properly promote the concert (and hopefully allowing pre-sales of tickets, for gosh sakes), and gives the others a pep talk worthy of Gurren Lagann. Unfortunately, there’s a huge potential snag in this plan: the reporter Ookuba knows he’s somehow revived seven dead girls and is profiting off their performances. When he learns of the revenge show he’s determiend to stop it.

Frankly, this feels like a little bit of eleventh-hour antagonism for its own sake, and I’m more than a little disappointed that Ookuba is taking such a hard stance rather than letting the idols whose unlives he’s trying to upheave have their say in the matter. By going straight to Koutarou he’s stripping them of their agency. Considering how much they’ve achieved, they’ve earned the right to decide to perform, not for Koutarou, but for each other and for Saga.

That brings us back to the bar where Old Man Saga works. Years ago, Koutarou was “gloomy and half-crazed”—instead of full-crazed like he is now—and thus bought into Saga’s claims that he was an immortal being who can revive the dead and has been fighting a curse that’s been at work in Saga for thousands of years.

Turns out everything that Koutarou has done with Franchouchou has been to prevent Saga’s prophesy—of a cataclysm that will make everyone forget Saga—from coming true. It’s why he flew to close to the sun with EFS the first time, but it’s also why he’s determined to make EFS II a success that no one will ever forget, weaving their past failure into the narrative.

But as the idols prepare for their show tomorrow, Saga is pelted with increasingly harsh rains, and the wind eventually knocks out power throughout the prefecture, just as Ookoba is about to publish his exposé.

But, of course, there are larger problems than whether he saved a copy; a building that looks like Koutarou’s run-down mansion seems to sink into the saturated earth, presumably with our zombie idols inside. While I’m sure they’re safe—they’re zombies—Saga is another question entirely. Are we past the point of singing and dancing  being able to save Saga, or will we simply not see them at their most legendary until the shit has truly hit the fan?

Rating: 4/5 Stars

Cardcaptor Sakura – 46 – Love Not Lest Ye Be Loved

Yue is in no mood for delays; he’s going to judge Sakura right here and now: she’ll either subdue him with her mastery of the cards, or she’ll lose and catastrophe will be unleashed. There’s just one problem: Sakura has no intention of fighting someone who just a few minutes ago was Yukito, a boy she deeply cares for. We learn Yukito never had any knowledge that he was really Yue, which only adds to Sakura’s reluctance to fight.

The thing is, Yue doesn’t care if Sakura cared about Yukito. If she won’t fight, then he’ll mop the floor with her, just like he did Syaoran. And holy crap does Sakura ever receive by far the worst beating of the entire series, getting tossed around like a ragdoll before being ensnared in the vines of the Wood card she herself summoned. The fact she doesn’t even know that Wood is controlled by the Moon (i.e. Yue) irritates him even more as he passes his final judgment: Sakura loses.

The catastrophe that shall occur due to her failure? Everyone in the world will forget about the person they love or care about most. Kero-chan was right: it isn’t a “world-ending” kind of apocalypse. After she’s completely enveloped in vines, Sakura wakes up in bed, and there’s even the Cardcaptor Sakura doll on her headboard.

She has her normal morning routine, but Yukito vanishes when she spots him, while Tomoyo and Syaoran are no longer warm or friendly, but mere acquaintances. Same with Chiharu and Yamazaki…and Rika doesn’t even like that teacher she likes!

Having had adequate time to take in this horrifying bad future (or at least the equivalent of such from her perspective), Sakura runs to Yukito’s gran’s house, only to find it abandoned and in poor repair. She breaks down in tears in the bamboo forest, but then something happens: she starts hearing the voices of everyone she loves, first calling her name, then singing the song Tomoyo sang (and which Song copied).

Then she hears Mizuki’s bell clang, and she bursts out of the vine prison, waking from her helldream and returning to Tokyo Tower. Turns out the bell was also furnished by Clow Reed and used by Mizuki to give the Cardcaptor one—and only one—last chance against Yue.

This time, Sakura uses her own magical power to draw not from the Sun or the Moon, but her own personal stars, and a new wand is forged that allows her to summon Windy—the first Clow Card she ever captured—and restrain Yue without him being able to counter.

Sakura tells Yue what he never thought he’d hear, that she understands now how much Clow Reed meant to him, and why he never wanted another master after Reed died. However, Sakura isn’t offering to become Yue’s master or a replacement for Reed; she wants them to be friends, plain and simple, making the world better together.

Yue thus judges Sakura to be the winner of their little duel, and she has a brief stop up in the stars to meet with Clow Reed, who is grateful Sakura was able to locate and follow the path of “necessities disguised as coincidences” he had set out—her own way.

After that, Sakura returns to the shrine grounds and is reunited with Tomoyo and Syaoran, taking both of a surprised Syaoran’s hands and dancing with him in pure unadulterated joy.

Kero and Yue acknowledge that due to her youth, Sakura isn’t quite ready for their true forms full-time, so they agree to return to their disguises for the time being. That means Kero-chan is back to being a pint-sized plushie, while Yue returns to the form of Tsukishiro Yukito.

Sakura’s adorable dance with Syaoran, paired with her far more understated reaction to Yukito’s return seems to signal the start of a transition from her feelings for Yukito/Yue—whom she knows will always love Clow above all—to Syaoran, who is, well, an actual human being.

And that does it for the grand Clow Card arc and the second season of Cardcaptor Sakura! My stars, has this show been a balm in these times. While this finale wasn’t my absolute favorite of the series (that might be “Sakura’s Dizzy Fever Day”) it definitely makes the top five, merely by dint of its vital story, cinematic scope and utterly gorgeous animation. On to season three!

Zettai Karen Children: The Unlimited – Hyoubu Kyousuke – 09

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The USEI launches a massive, multi-pronged attack, using UAVs to distract Hyoubu. Assault teams armed with ESP-nullifying ECM devices board the ship, but Patty stops them from getting to the children. The director, Andy’s boss, boards the Catastrophe and captures Yuugiri. Andy tries to stop him, and is shot, but the bullet is stopped by his necklace. Hyoubu manages to hold off the USEI barrage long enough for Magi, Yoh, and Momiji and Patty to transport the children to safety. Andy manages to jump off the Catastrophe as it explodes and sinks.

After two episodes that essentially spin off the spinoff by going back to Hyoubu’s tender youth, this week the present returns with unyielding force, and PANDRA is dealt a serious blow. Andy betrays his new family by de-cloaking the ship, opening it up to bombardment. Naturally, when he sees the USEI boarding the ship and hunting down espers, he objects (because he has a moral compass), but it’s out of his hands now; he served his role as puppet, and has to either watch the consequences unfold, or rebel. Watching the Catastrophe go down and the evacuees escaping by the skin of their teeth wraps up a shocking series of events.

It’s amazing how swiftly things go so very very badly for PANDRA. But most shocking is that even with his Unlimited power, Hyoubu can’t put a dent in the onslaught before him. It doesn’t help that he’s close to death, and has an attack right in the middle of battle. Now relieved of their floating haven, with their leader reeling and perhaps their most powerful child in enemy hands, tough times are ahead for PANDRA. It makes us wonder if their plight will lead to them allying with BABEL, who you can’t really call their nemesis at this point. It’s normal humans like Andy’s evil bigot boss who are the nemeses.


Rating: 8 (Great)

Zettai Karen Children: The Unlimited – Hyoubu Kyousuke – 06

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PANDRA’s next mission is to steal an ECM while in transit, but Andy decides it’s time to execute the mission the USEI assigned: to take the Catastrophe’s source of power: the brain of Ihachigo, a soldier who died in the war. The USEI instructs BABEL to distract PANDRA but not to deploy the Children. When Hyoubu smells a trap, he’s stopped by Kaoru (acting on her own), whom he defeats with his Unlimited ability. Andy races back to the Catastrophe, but Hyoubu is waiting for him.

Hyoubu appears to be near the end of his rope, and yet he still finds the theft of some random piece of technology to be worth his swiftly dwindling time. Still, the mission turns out to serve as a rather useful test for Andy, which he fails. Hyoubu knew he was an undercover agent all along, but maybe held out some hope that he’d come around, after seeing what a warm family PANDRA is. Andy is at least half-esper, after all, making him at least halfway on Hyoubu’s side…right?

Wrong. Andy’s on no one’s side. He joined the USEI so he could “be himself”, even if he still hasn’t grasped exactly who that is. While he sympathizes with Yuugiri and the other esper children and civilians, the hard truth is, Hyoubu wants to exterminate the normals. That’s genocide, and Andy won’t have a part in it, so he does his duty. Things go pretty smoothly at first, but he didn’t count on Hyoubu shaking off all of the diversions so soon, nor did he know Hyoubu was even on to him. Now he’s made his choice, and Hyoubu means to kill him for it.


Rating: 7 (Very Good)

Zettai Karen Children: The Unlimited – Hyoubu Kyousuke – 04

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PANDRA travels to Japan where Hyoubu Kyousuke wishes to check on his “queen” Akashi Kaoru, one of the Children who work for BABEL. Minamoto sends her along with Nogami Aoi and Sannomiya Shiho to impound the Catastrophe and arrest all of PANDRA. Andy is stuck in the middle, but ultimately helps Hyoubu defeat BABEL. The Children use their Triple Boost ESP to control the Catastrophe, but Hyoubu counters with his Unlimited power, and PANDRA escapes.

We were just saying last week how we were bummed that so far Hyoubu and PANDRA were punching so far below their weight class. This week, our concerns are addressed, as they face off against their arch-rivals. We meet the Children from Zettai Karen Children for the first time, and they’re a force to behold. It’s almost scary how quick, efficient, and coordinated they are, which is good, because for once PANDRA actually has to break a sweat. If it weren’t for Hyoubu and Andy, they’d all be in Japanese prison.

Hyoubu wants to create a world where espers aren’t treated like second-class citizens. He’ll always put an esper above a “normal”. So in this regard, the espers of BABEL aren’t really his enemies, only misguided comrades to be converted. The one he’s most bent on converting is Akashi Kaoru, the most powerful of the Children and the one he wants sitting on the Throne as queen of the new world he wants to build. Of course, she and her two colleagues are still just kids (and sore losers to boot), so Hyoubu will do what all good antagonists do and bide his time.


Rating: 7 (Very Good)

Zettai Karen Children: The Unlimited – Hyoubu Kyousuke – 02

Andy acclimates to life aboard the Catastrophe and meets the various members of P.A.N.D.R.A., each of which has a unique esper power. Hyoubu takes him on his first job, meeting with the mafia in Venice. They make good use of Andy’s power negation to foil the mafia boss Carlo’s plan to take out Hyoubu, who turns around and kills him with his “Unlimited” power. They return to the Catastrophe and have a celebratory shindig.

The first episode introduced us to (anti)hero Hyoubu, his pint-sized ward Yugiri and his newest employee, the two-faced Andy. This week we meet more members of P.A.N.D.R.A. and learn what it is a criminal esper organization does with itself, besides cruise around on giant yachts. Yugiri is a mind-readers; Momotaro has the body of a squirrel; Magi can change his form into, say, wings, which he uses to fly. Momiji can teleport. Yoh manipulates sound. All these skills prove valuable in Andy’s first official mission, which amounts to killing off a mafia boss and old friend. Andy’s passive power – to negate the powers of others, is perhaps most powerful and useful of all, which is probably why Hyoubu is keeping him around.

Some like Magi don’t trust him – and they’re right not to – but he defers to “Major” Hyoubu, an 80-year-old Dorian Gray who’s stayed young by using his esper powers (and drinking lots of milk). Hyoubu may be exceedingly confident, but as the incident with the mob boss proves, he doesn’t strike us as someone who will let someone pull the wool over his eyes. He’s a survivor. We’ll also note that Andy was struck by the family atmosphere of P.A.N.D.R.A. when off-duty. It’s definitely not what he expected – there are even orphan espers aboard, suggesting Hyoubu is an immortal gangster with a heart o’gold. Or maybe he’s just making sure he has a deep bench of esper “talent” waiting in the wings?


Rating: 6 (Good)