Attack on Titan – 14

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AoT is a show in which Eren and pretty much everyone else around him is usually fighting for their lives. As such, it is more necessary than other less “lethal” shows to suspend disbelief that this week will finally Eren’s last. The truth is, he’s the protagonist, and he’s not going anywhere. So the show has to be clever in order to keep the audience suspended in disbelief, like a scout regiment soldier suspended in the air.

This week, I couldn’t help but come to the ground, probably because I couldn’t silence the voice of a theoretical 90’s-style overdone television commercial for this episode: “This week on Attack on Titan: Eren goes on trial. Will he live…or die?”, and so forth. Opening the second cour of AoT with a stodgy standalone trial episode with a foregone conclusion frankly wasn’t all that engaging.

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Forget the feeling this is just a formality, and the nagging certainty that Eren would be spared the proverbial guillotine. After all the horrors and near-misses we’ve faced with Eren, a courtroom setting populated mostly with ignorant wimps just doesn’t feel that threatening. C-in-C Zackley is built up as this force to be reckoned with, but he’s mostly just a bore who is not only constantly failing to keep order in the court, but doesn’t even seem particularly interested in doing so.

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I kinda pumped my fist, then, when Levi essentially puts an end to the farce by approaching Eren and then proceeding to beat the ever-loving crap out of him, an effort to show he can control him, but also to call out all the schlubs who talk big but weren’t ready to back up their bluster with action. Sure, Levi activates Angry Mikasa, but it would seem Armin has the ability to hold her back in such situations. If he didn’t, I still think Levi would give her a run for her money; he seems a true-grit kinda fellow.

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Zackley decides to hand Eren over to the Scout Regiment, represented by Erwin Smith, Levi, Hange Zoe (who seems to have a scientific inclination) and Mike Zacharias (who likes sniffing people then sneering). Between them, only Erwin seems normal. As it turns out, Levi only beat up Eren in order to convince Zackley to let the Scouts take him out to the exterior, to see if he can truly be a benefit to humanity.

Mind you, Levi didn’t hold back, but he did have to sell it, even to a judge as disinterested as Zackley. And Eren seems to still possess rapid-healing powers, as the tooth he lost to Levi’s beating is already growing back.

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Akame ga Kill! – 20

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After last week’s almost total victory, in which the Jaegers took a heavy loss, we knew Night Raid was due for a casualtie or two of their own in battles we knew would get tougher from here on out. The episode helpfully narrows down the choice based on who gets initial scenes of levity in which death flags fly: Lubbock and Mine were our predictions.

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The intricate plan to storm the palace and kill the Minister runs into trouble almost immediately when Tatsumi and Lubbock’s rebel contacts all end up dead by the hands of Shura, Honest’s demented, woman-hating man-child of a son. Shura’s way of life is refreshingly simple: He wants to have fun, and everyone and everything in the world are his toys. Hey, he’s his father’s son!

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So yeah, we’re obviously not sympathizing with Shura. As for Budou, Commander-in-Chief of the Imperial Army, he’s just freakin’ HUGE, as in ‘not-human’ huge, so despite the fact he has no personal quarrel with Tatsumi and even admires his swordsmanship, there’s not much to sympathize with him, either. But that’s okay; these bad guys are meant to impede our heroes, not garner sympathy.

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The two matchups work out pretty tidily, too. While Tatsumi and Budou are primarily hack-and-slash knights, Lubbock’s and Shura’s Imperial Arms employ preparation, deception, and delay. Shura has set up marks all over the city and the skies above with which to teleport using his Shambhala, which Lubbock counters by setting up his Cross Tail’s threads like rigging.

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Lubbock also fights by making it seem like he’s the underdog, when in reality, due to his cunning and Cross Tail’s versatility, he’s a tougher out than Shura. Shura catches a break when the palace informant interferes, stabbing Lubbock in the back in hopes Shura will free her parents for her service…after he already cut her neck open, mind you. Unfortunately for her, Shura already had her parents killed. Yeah, we GET IT. SHURA’S NOT A GREAT GUY.

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That break allows Shura to grab his Shambhala and send Lubbock to a kind of Subspace, but Lubbock has his threads tangled around Shura, and pulls him in too. As Shura blusters and tries to escape, Lubbock throws a thread-spear into his heart and pops it, like he did with one of the Demons a couple weeks back. Hey, if it ain’t broke (and the enemy is as dumb as Shura), why fix it? Night Raid 1, Empire 0.

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When Shura dies, Lubbock is teleported back to the regular world, several hundred feet in the air. His last thoughts are of his would-be love, a particularly adorable-looking Najenda, as he falls to his death atop several well-placed spears. I have to continue to hand it to AGK for giving its characters pretty fantastic death sequences, and Lubbock was cool as a cucumber as green as his hair till the end. Night Raid 1, Empire 1.

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But “Wait,” you say, “What about Tatsumi’s fight with Budou?” Well, it doesn’t go so well for Tatsumi. Budou is regarded as the only person in the empire whose strength is a legitimate match for Esdeath’s, and let’s face it: Tatsumi hasn’t faced an opponent that strong yet, so with very little fanfare, Tatsumi is taken into custody and bound in irons. Minister Honest is upset about the death of his boy…for about five seconds, then starts licking his chops at the possibilities of having Tatsumi as a captive. Empire 2, Night Raid 1.

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And who’s volunteering to interrogate him before his public execution? Why, his true love, General Esdeath, fresh off another successful expedition (I like how she admits she’s better on the battlefield than in the city on guard duty; recent history bears that out). The members of Night Raid still alive and free are down to three: Najenda (with Susanoo), Leone, and Mine. Meanwhile, not counting an ailing Kurome, the Jaegers are down to Esdeath, Wave, and Run. Just four episodes left; I’m starting to get excited here!

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Space Dandy 2 – 07

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I knew a rock-and-roll themed Space Dandy was inevitable. Dandy possesses all the qualities necessary to be a rock star…other than success. What we didn’t see coming was that this kind of story would involve the peripheral ongoing conflict between the Gogol and Jaicro Empires, let alone be the thing that prevents a hellish interstellar war between the two.

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But that’s simply Space Dandy’s knack for making clever connections between big and small happenings in the show. The flapping of a butterfly’s wings—or in this case, the flapping of Johnny D and Dandy’s gums—ends up saving the universe. Of course, the fact that Johnny D’s day job is Commander-in-Chief of the Jaicro Empire, and that he’d give it all up to be a gen-u-wine rock star, also played a role.

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While Dandy is looking for fame and fortune in the usual way, Johnny D already has both in his other life, but it’s not enough. Dandy humming in the men’s room, of all things leads to the two starting a band. But both Dandy’s laziness and Johnny’s already-established status lead to the two doing everything a band does…other than making actual music.

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As a parody of the rock star lifestyle influenced by other rock star lifestyles, this is pretty effective. It’s pretty funny watching the two argue with each other about all the minutiae that doesn’t actually matter until a band is established. But if you’re already an intergalactic generalissimo, or already have the lovely Honey sprawled out on your table, delusions of grandeur are inevitable.

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Lucky for Dandy and Johnny, while they debate sticker-vs.-pennant (pennant?), Meow and QT actually practice their instruments and are ready to go when it’s time to actually rock and roll. Johnny spends untold days atop a playground slide waiting for a masterpiece to “descend upon him”, and the sounds of the city eventually put a catchy Police-style riff in his head.

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Their first gig is typically pathetic first gig, and it’s pretty comical how their song is only that one-measure riff repeated ad nauseum; but “Dropkix” end up get a reputation for boisterous gigs which end with some kind of fight or explosion or both. This catches the attention of a music industry bigwig, who books them for SPACE BUDOKAN.

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Everything is better with “SPACE” attached, and their first big concert doesn’t disappoint. At first, Johnny D flakes out because his Empire’s big assault is the same day as the concert, and he puts duty before dreams. But then he arrives at the last minute, climbing out of a lion’s head embedded in his giant space mecha looming over the stadium. What an entrance!

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They finally start playing music, and the song is not bad and quite catchy, if simple in lyrics. The two start competing again, leading to a mixture of flames and water and lightning that destroy the venue and Johnny’s mecha. But while it was their first and last big show, it did avert a war, so while Dandy will be back to alien-hunting next week, the universe came out on top.

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Ginga Kikoutai Majestic Prince – 16

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Izuru undergoes more tests, but is judged to be fine. The Rabbits throw an official welcoming party for Ange. Amane, armed with the knowledge of a Wulgaru defector from Rin, is chosen to accompany the C-in-C of the GDF to a meeting with various economic powers. Simon offers Izuru and Asagi the chance to quit Team Rabbits and become instructors; they both decline. Daneel informs Izuru that Theoria wants to have dinner with him. He brings Asagi along for support, but before Theoria can get to why she invited him, the Wulgaru break through the absolute defense line, and the Rabbits are ordered to sortie.

Team Rabbits may be the heroes and potential saviors of mankind with their advanced, Wulgaru-based AHSMB suits, but they are also serving as test pilots, ironing out the kinks in the system before expanding the fleet. That’s sensible; if something goes wrong and an AHSMB wipes the personality of a pilot, he or she may do more harm than good (imagine an entire fleet of crazed Anges, taking orders from no one…chaos!) Then the political angle comes into play: the GDF doesn’t want to show its entire hand to rival powers, choosing to only sell older tech to appease them.

Amane (again quickly rising in the world as we thought she would) rightly calls this behavior out as petty squabbling amongst powers when the entire earth is at equal risk of being annihilated by the Wulgaru. We were also listening when Theoria lamented that her people are only looking out for number one; they are cultureless but for the hunt. But there’s a degree of that selfishness in humanity as well, which may be their undoing. It’s nice and all that Izuru and Asagi want to remain as pilots, protecting those they care about, but is that enough against the enormity of their foe?


Rating: 6 (Good)

Stray Observations:

  • After last week’s thrilling battle, Team Rabbits is off-duty the entire episode.
  • They throw a party for Ange, but still no one is able to glean his/her true gender.
  • Tamaki is totally oblivious of Patrick’s interest in her, assuming he’s checking out Giuliano behind her. Poor Pat!
  • The “date strategy” meeting is pretty fun: Izuru is told the key to Theoria’s heart is to feed her pickled fish guts, compliment her cake, look cool while complimenting her as she talks, and doing little things to show he cares.
  • Theoria asks Daneel to pick a place, and he asks Peko, who chooses the Red Comet Okonomiyaki Teppanyaki Grill.
  • We guess it would be presumptuous to hope that when everything shakes out, Amane becomes the new head of the GDF…or even the President of Earth? She’s such a go-getter!