Gakusen Toshi Asterisk – 18

aw181

This week is—the second semifinal match, the second-to-last of the Phoenix Festa— The winner shall face Allekant’s AL-D and RM-C. The challengers? Ayato and Julis versus the two aces of Galadadworth Academy: Doroteo Lemus and Elliot Forster.

Wait…WHO are these dudes? Never mind; it doesn’t matter.

aw182

That’s right, this match is a gimmie. The show doesn’t even pretend that the outcome is in doubt. If it had, these guys would have been built-up more in past episodes. These guys are comically weaksauce, to the point I hate to think about the chumps who had to lose to them in order for them to advance this far. Sure, Ayato and Julis have a tendency to make even great opponents look silly, but knowing they’d advance to the finals for sure made this whole match a bit perfunctory.

Elliot is very skilled but also very young, and Ayato senses and easily exploits his lightweight resolve, while Julis simply pops off standard attacks of gradually increasing intensity until Doroteo lets himself get roasted inside his suit of armor. Yes, he had a mecha-horse and a long lance, but couldn’t lay a finger on an opponent on foot with a sword.

aw183

Indeed, this is an example of bad seeding. It would have been far more interesting to me if AR-D and RM-C faced off against Ayato and Julis in the semifinal, so that Saya and Kirin could waste these knights and the four friends could face off in the final. What would have been wrong with that?

I don’t know, but for now Saya and Kirin can only stew in the sting of their defeat to an opponent they should never have had to face to begin with (the Festa is clearly rigged to favor Allekant’s puppets), while they search for the kidnapped Flora. Did I mention I don’t much care for Flora, nor do I care for her basically showing up just so that she could get kidnapped?

Well, I don’t, but she’s just a little kid, and clearly important to Julis, so I understand Ayato wanting to go all out to track her down, even meeting all secretively with Irene, who laments she has no hard intel for Ayato (since Dirk never bothered to brief her), but she does manage to narrow his search to Rotlicht with a hunch.

aw184

Meanwhile, Ernesta and Camilla work through the night preparing their puppets for the final with Ayato and Julis. This is the build-up scene (combined with the previous battles and scenes featuring these two) the Galahad guys didn’t get. These are the guys to beat.

In this scene we learn a lot more about these two Allekant scientists, how Camilla’s body was severely damaged in a terrorist attack, and how Ernesta built her half a body, leading Camilla to pledge half her life to Ernesta in return.

We also learn the two have different goals: Camilla wants to develop a universal lux anyone can wield; Ernesta wants no less than to create a new form of sentient artificial life. She’s already on her way, thanks in part to the puppets’ match with Saya and Kirin.

AR-D wants to keep his face scar to remind him of his imperfections; RM-C wants a less embarrasing way to transfer her luxes to AR-D during limit transfer. Ernesta is over the moon by this progress; Camilla is clearly more weary.

As for Ayato, his cover is quickly blown and he gets chased all over Rotlicht by Men In Black, before a gorgeous young woman pops out from behind a column offering safety.

That’s right, it’s yet another girl for Ayato—though at least one who has been foreshadowed not just by the inter-world signage of the show, but by the fact the OP and ED are sung by this girl, the famous idol Sylvia.

I got a kick out of the post-credits preview with an increasingly desperate CG-Claudia trying to impress Ayato with her own singing. Sorry Enfield, I don’t think you’ll feature much next week either!

16rating_7

Advertisements

One Punch Man – 09

opm91

ENTER GENOS. Genos doesn’t mess around this week. He gets right down to the Sea King Clobberin’. And it looks, for a hot moment, like he was sufficient, until the Sea King swoops back into view and clobbers him right back. Genos holds out, buying valuable time for the surely en route-by-now Saitama, but when a little girl cheering him on gets targeted by the King’s acid loogie, he blocks it, at great physical cost.

opm92

All I can say is goddamn, it’s a good thing Genos is a cyborg primarily composed of replaceable artificial parts, becaue he looks near-as-makes-no-difference GONE after that acid’s done eating away at him. For a usually funny show, this is a horrific, visceral image that instills despair in that little girl.

And then, Mumen Rider tosses his bike at the Sea King. That gentle rattle of the King’s body brings the laughter right back. Mumen, unlike Saitama, belongs in Class C, at least as far as strength and ability is concerned. But he has a Class S heart, and that’s what matters as he refuses to back down and even tries to feed (in vain) off of the support of the crowd. Again, while he has no hope of victory, he’s buying time for Saitama.

opm93

ENTER SAITAMA. The man we’ve all been waiting to see saunter up to the Sea King. The King sends Saitama’s head gently, hilariously bobbling with his initial punch, but that’s all he does. Saitama doesn’t want to stand in the rain much longer, so he wants to get this over with his usual way, so he does, blasting a hole through the Sea King so hard, the force of his punch actually blows the rainclouds away, an awesome effect. It’s all over; Perfect Victory to Saitama. The crowd of evacuees vociferously voice their gratitude.

opm94

The next day Saitama and (a fully repaired!) Genos receive fan mail via HA delivery drone (they’re going to be a thing, people!), but the first letter Saitama opens is a violently scrawled accusation that’s he’s a cheat who should burn in hell. So hate mail.  We’re helpfully sent back to the immediate aftermath of his defeat of Sea King. There, we see just how much one or two bad apples spoil the bunch when it comes to skewing the opinion of the whole.

One of the evacuees, whose character design seems to have been painstakingly developed to be as loathsome, adversarial, and (one!-)punchable as possible, brings up the fact that this bald guy isn’t necessarily strong, but the other heroes who fell before him were weak. He goes on to call the entire hero class system into question.

This angers Saitama, but he reacts quite differently than I expected: he embraces his role as the guy who “just” delivered the finishing blow. His self-depricating words are a means of preserving the sacrifice of the heroes before him, and he doubles down on racing in at the last second to steal wins off of them. He’s not about to let other heroes who fought with everything they had be thrown under the bus because of his mis-classification. What was left of Genos at the time manages a grin of appreciation; his master truly is amazing.

opm95

And while Saitama’s public image may not be what he might have wanted going into this whole pro hero thing, the fact is paddling against the flow of public opinion is never really going to be worthwhile as long as he’s Class C. That changes after this fight, as he becomes ranked first in C, with the option to be promoted to B after an exhaustive interview; an option he accepts, and which puts him on Amai Mask’s radar as a potential threat closing fast.

Saitama did get one hastily-scrawled letter expressing genuine thanks for his heroism. Turns out it was from Mumen Rider, who treats him to dinner at a food stand. Unlike Saitama, Mumen may be exactly where he should be—atop Class C—but that doesn’t matter to Saitama.

Mumen gave him a ride when he needed one, stood up to the Demon-class Sea King, and took an epic beating that in hindsight couldn’t have been that bad as he’s out of the hospital and ambulatory not long thereafter. We see mutual respect at that stand. And Mumen’s thanks means more to Saitama than the impersonal acceptance and love of the masses. This could be the start of a beautiful friendship.

9_ses

One Punch Man – 08

opm81

Another day, another enemy defeated by Saitama in one punch, almost boring the crowds but helping him rise to Class C Rank 2, almost Class B! Progress. Only the octopus monster he defeated was only the vanguard of a much larger force of seafolk, led by the thoroughly evil-and-damn-proud-of-it Deep Sea King. The King takes out Stinger, then Lightning Max, with ease.

opm82

Aside from a couple of hilarious but all-to-brief scenes of Genos and Saitama drying dishes and running, there’s just not much of the main duo in the picture this week, and while sometimes skipping their action is used for comedic effect, it’s a liability this week. I just didn’t find Stinger, Max, and Puri-Puri-Prisoner all that interesting as they tried and failed to defeat the King.

opm83

Sonic tries to spice things up, and puts up the best fight yet against the King (along with the best combat animation in the episode), but once it starts raining the King gets bigger, stronger, and faster, while Sonic gets tired and retreats to find a weapon. Meanwhile, Amai Mask, the top Class-A hero, is more concerned with his hot new single than hero-duties.

opm84

Mumen Rider is also in this episode, but he’s late to the battle in the cold open, and in transit the rest of the time. Like Saitama and Genos, he doesn’t really do anything. Then the episode ends and I’m left wondering why we were spending so much time watching all the other heroes try in vain to defeat the King, when we all knew it was going to come down to Saitama, Genos, Mumen Rider, or some combination of those three.

One Punch Man just wasn’t its usual sprightly, decisive self, feeling strangely sluggish and tentative throughout its weakest outing to date. At least it provided quite exhaustive setup to the showdown between the Deep Sea King and the three heroes who have yet to face him.

7_ses

One Punch Man – 07

opm71

This week’s threat to the annihilation of City Z and its neighbors isn’t a villain or monster, but a meteor. Just…a meteor. Nothing fancy or ironic about it, except that it shifted course to land right in Saitama’s backyard (so to speak). This initially feels like this threat lacks the imagination of previous foes, but it offers the opportunity to see what happens when Saitama saves the city and is actually recognized for it.

opm72

Only Genos and other Class S heroes are summoned to Z in a last-ditch effort, and only three Class S’s actually show up: Bang, Bofoi, and Genos. Third-ranked Fang’s martial arts are of no help; seventh-ranked Bofoi only sends a drone to perform a weapons test. Genos takes Fang’s advice to go all out and not worry about failure or repercussions, but he also comes up short. It falls to Saitama, who shows up randomly and blasts the meteor to bits.

opm73

Now, Saitama has destroyed cities before, most notably in the first episode when the colossus he knocks out falls on one. But now his name is out there as the one who stopped the meteor and saved millions of lives but also the one who devastated City Z. The HA also assumes he had help from the Class S’s, so he only rises within his own Class C, albeit a healthy jump from 342nd to fifth.

Rankings aside, when heroes near and far hear of a Class C barging into a Class S matter, they’re understandably pissed, and suspect foul play. Enter the Tank Top Brothers, Tiger and Black Hole. Rather than challenge him to a fight, they start yelling abou how Saitama is responsible for all the destruction around them, gathering a crowd that turns against Saitama and starts to chant “give it up”.

opm74

The true test of Saitama’s greatness as a hero is not in his victories over impossible foes like the meteor. Rather, it is in his ability to withstand the indignity of not only hardly ever being recognized for his efforts, but on the contrary, blamed for secondary issues, when if it weren’t for him, every man, woman, child, and building in City Z would have been toast.

Bang witnesses the Brothers turning the crowd against Saitama, but does not interfere, knowing sometimes being the bad guy in spite of being the good guy is part of the job. But the Bros’ scheme backfires when they try to put their hands on Saitama, and they very publicly show how much weaker they are.

Saitama uses the opportunity to tell the stunned crowd he’s a hero because he wants to be one, not for admiration. If they have a problem, they can either say it to his face or go to hell. It’s the first real case of Saitama, who has the clear moral high ground, addressing a good-size crowd of people directly. He probably swayed few minds, but perhaps being known and despised is preferable to not being known at all.

8_ses

One Punch Man – 06

opm61

I’m not so sure this Hero registration was such a good idea for Saitama. After all, none of his amazing deeds have gone noticed prior to registering, and no matter how phenomenally powerful he is, he seems doomed to never be recognized for it, whether it’s because witnesses are hardly ever around when he performs his feats, or other, more famous heroes hog all the notoriety.

When Genos informs him he must bag a bad guy within a week or lose his registration, Saitama learns just how hard it is to find a low-level monster or criminal to apprehend or punish when he actually wants to find one. Luckily, he bumps into Sonic on the streets, and Sonic is so bent on fighting him he “pretends” to be a villain for Saitama to nab, which actually just means blowing a lot of stuff up and putting people in danger.

Still, Saitama has to thank Sonic for showing up, because otherwise his career as a pro hero would be over before it ever got started.

opm62

As a bored Class-S hero Tornado (a rare female character on OPM) complains to the HA administration about getting more tasty work (a lot of the work suited to S’s Saitama already did without fanfare), news of…something bad going on in the abandoned area of City Z prompts the HA to send two Class-A’s to investigate.

opm63

Rank 29 Golden Ball and Rank 33 Spring Mustachio saunter in, weary of the widespread destruction and lack of people in the zone. They end up confronting a vicious seaweed monster who also heard rumors about things going down in the area, including a congregation of monsters like himself, but instead decides to kill time by wasting both of the Class-A’s, clearly establishing how strong he is.

opm64

There’s something familiar about this area: it’s Saitama’s neighborhood. Ever since all those battles in previous episodes, everyone else who lived there moved out. He and Genos are all that is left, which makes the fact Genos insists on living with him in his cramped apartment all the more ridiculous. As for the seaweed monster, he not unreasonably mistakes Saitama for just a regular schlub and prepares to kill him, but rather than witness what happens next, we go straight to the end: Saitama boiling kanbu leaves from the slain monster for broth. Waste not, want not, eh?

Just as we didn’t see what Saitama did, no one else did, so he gets no credit for easily defeating down a monster that ate two Top-35s for breakfast. Instead, he rises from 388th to 342nd for apprehending Sonic, for which there were witnesses. And he gets to start the drudgery all over again, going from crim to crim in a mad dash to keep his license. There’s no justice in this world…for Saitama, that is!

opm65

Instead, only the collateral damage from his battles is noticed by the HA, who sends more heroes to City Z’s abandoned area on high alert for “something big” to go down. But there isn’t anything to be on high alert for. It’s all Saitama, taking care of business. Saitama just operates too far outside the boundaries of the system to ever find success within it. He’s too fast; too strong; too good at his job.

At least with more eyes on his location, the possibility increases that a hero somewhere, someday (who isn’t Genos) will witness him doing something great and relay it to the HA so he can finally get his proper due. It could happen.

…But it probably won’t!

8_ses

One Punch Man – 05

opm51

No bad guys to fight this week; just a Hero Association registration exam to complete. Saitama’s peers snicker at him right up until he demolishes all of the records during his fitness testing. Watching Saitama snap from dopey blank look to serious glare is always a delight, and the way he took those tests around the corner and had his way with them made for some hilarious images, particularly the vertical jump. Why whack-a-mole?

opm52

Unfortunately, there’s a written test too, and Saitama doesn’t do to well on that. Genos gets a 50/50 in both tests, and assumes from the top of the letter in Saitama’s packet that he’ll be joining him in the rarefied Class-S, but it’s just a lowly Class-C. His subsequent analysis of the letter only gets Saitama madder.

Meanwhile, Genos’ special rookie exception attracts the attentino of a blue-haired fellow hero. Saitama and Genos meet the goofy Class-A hero Snek (not “Snake!”), but Saitama couldn’t care less what the man has to say, preferring to see how big a bubble he can blow with his gum (another riotously funny image).

opm53

Now that he’s Class-S, Genos wants to try his hand at Saitama once more, to see how far he has to go to reach his master’s level. In a vast, abandoned empty space, the two go to town, with Genos unleashing his entire arsenal at Saitama without managing to touch a hair on his–I-I mean, touch his head.

Genos insists Saitama stop fooling around and fight him seriously, but Saitama stops an inch short of his face on a “serious” punch, his trademark One Punch, and then suggests they go to lunch. Genos, suddenly a little paler than a moment ago, saw the murderous intent in that punch, and knows what would have happened if it had landed.

It’s a frustrating exchange for Genos, who can’t see a scenario in which he’d ever come close to Saitama’s power. But unlike Saitama himself, he does want to figure out the secret of that power (stubbornly refusing to believe it was just moderately strenuous training). But Genos does end up beating Saitama…in a giant udon bucket eating contest.

opm54

Then the blue-haired hero, Amai Mask, finally tracks Genos down and talks to him. Being at the top of Class-A, Genos shot one spot above Amai, and he seems a little miffed by that. Still, it’s only a friendly-ish welcome chat, and Amai is soon off to his penthouse. But the power of his celebrity leaves a lasting impression on the other patrons of the restaurant, and just by being seen with Amai, Genos gets the attention and admiration of everyone, including cute girls.

So both Genos and Saitama were frustrated this week. Genos with the seemingly unclimbable heights to approach his master’s strength; Saitama with being underrated and undervalued by the HA, as well as by Genos deciding to move in with him. Once Saitama gets jobs and completes them quickly and forcefully, I wonder if he’ll actually rise in HA, or continually fall victim to technicalities.

Indeed, after failing to secure a salaryman job, Saitama is now entering employment under a large corporation. Now that being a hero is a job and not just something he does for fun, will he feel even more stifled and unfulfilled, or will he become a celebrity and get fulfillment through the love of his fans? We shall see.

9_ses

One Punch Man – 04

opm41

This action-packed, side-splitting OPM comments on the severe wealth gap, the rise of individuals with no motivation to work, the concept of what I’ll call “power relativity”, and the necessity of jumping through bureaucratic hoops in order to receive due recognition for one’s heroic efforts. Also, a bunch of people get beheaded and someone gets punched in the Gentleman’s Vegetables.

Saitama catchphrase is “I’m just a guy who’s a hero for fun.” For fun, not for fame. So why is Saitama so hurt that no one knows who he is? Well, for one thing, when an army of stolen battle suit-wearing baldies start tearing down buildings (the first one by accident) and the news warns the public to look out for bald people, then it becomes a problem!

opm42

That army calls themselves the Paradisers, they’re led by a giant fellow Hammerhead, and they all share a kind of lazy Robin-Hood philosophy of taking from the rich and giving to, well, not just the poor; the poor who don’t feel like working.

Their chief target is the richest man in town, Zeniru, who resides in a skyscraper topped with a golden turd. Unfortunately for the Paradisers, Zeniru has a cocky, smirking ninja named Sonic under his employ.

opm43

Battle suits or no, the Paradisers are lower on the food chain than Sonic, who has no trouble lopping the heads off of all of Hammerhead’s comrades, before dodging all of Hammy’s rock and tree-based attacks and throwing a kunai in the back of his head. While

Sonic calls his boss to report his success, Hammy disappears; turns out he has a really really thick skull. And that darned kunai stays lodged in the back that skull for the rest of the episode!

opm44

This is not Hammerhead’s day, because he almost immediately comes afoul of Saitama, who is rather pissed off that his “look” has been stolen. Hammy powers up his suit and starts throwing dual paddlewheel attacks, but obviously nothing works against the OPM.

Here’s the thing: Hammy reminds Saitama enough about his past self that he goes easy on him, which means destroying his battle suit with a glancing blow and letting him escape without clothes or his pride, but with his life.

opm45

Then Saitama encounters Sonic, who is stronger than Hammerhead, and believes himself the fastest, strongest sonofabitch around who has trained in ninjutsu his entire life…he’s just not as fast or strong as OPM.

Saitama doesn’t really have to exert any effort to neutralize Sonic, and he only neutralizes him accidentally, when Sonic’s junk comes down on his fist (the slow motion shot is priceless). Frankly, Sonic got off easy, as Saitama didn’t put anything into that fist. Yet he considers this encounter a motivator to train harder so that next time they meet, he’ll beat him.

opm46

That brings us to Saitama having tea at his place with a recently-repaired Genos, where Saitama expresses his frustration that even after three years of saving various cities from evil villains, no one in either the hero community or the general public know who he is. He doesn’t have a fan club of well-dressed blushing maidens, either.

So Genos brings up Hero Registration, something Saitama didn’t know was a thing, but which he sees as his ticket to recognition. Going online, filling out forms, and showing up to morning exams: it’s the life of a professional, officially recognized hero. Doesn’t sound very fun though, does it?

9_brav2

One Punch Man – 03

opm31

As episode three plunges into a detailed backstory for Professor Genus of the House of Evolution, I was wondering “Hey, what’s with all the lame long-winded narration?”—only for Saitama to interrupt the narrator (the cyborg gorilla) and state the exact same thing, followed by Genos telling the gorilla to keep it to “20 words or less.” Nicely played, OPM—I learned about Genus and laughed.

opm32

Anywho, as there’s a big sale at the supermarket tomorrow, Saitama wants to take care of Genus and the HoE ASAP, so he and Genos race to the site, throwing Genus and his many clones into a panic. They have every reason to be concerned, as when they arrive at the HoE’s front door, Genos incinerates the entire above-ground structure, along with the mountain it’s attached to, as a time-saving measure for his sale-hungry boss. Still, Saitama is a bit miffed; it’s not nice to not at least hear the villain out!

opm33

Well below ground, Genus is still kicking, and unleashes his trump card, a highly violent, psychopathic superhuman experimentation gone wrong, Carnage Kabuto. Still, he’s the strongest weapon Genus has, and thus his best bet against the intruders. That strength is demonstrated when CK turns Genos into, as Saitama calls it, “modern art.” But as usual, Saitama doesn’t panic, or even flinch at the sight of his suddenly abstracted apprentice.

opm34

Wanting more room to play, CK invites Saitama to a colossal white training room, a perfect pure, empty canvas against which to make marvelous artwork with their fists. But eager to prove himself, Genos rushes in first, blasting Kabuto with everything he’s got…and getting nothing but a cracked-up face and frightening afro for his trouble. Yet when Genos is out for the count and CK turns on Saitama, he squares up a devastating punch and…scurries into the corner like a frightened bug (indeed, his body resembles a Hercules Beetle).

Why? Well, Genus didn’t just make CK strong, but intelligent as well, and some instinct within him is shouting stay away from Saitama, which is actually a very good idea. It also makes CK ask how he got so damn strong, a question both Genos and Professor Genus also want to know. But they all come away deeply unsatified, since all Saitama can tell them is what he did: undergo a rigorous but not altogether ridiculous training regimen for three years, losing his hair in the process.

I like how the art style becomes more dramatic and intense as he talks not of some kind of super drug or divine encounter, but mere sit-ups, push-ups, squats, runs, and going without mod cons.

opm35

Now not so sure he trusts his instincts, CK goes into “Carnage” mode, powering up into a grotesque, rippling purple and green hulk, brimming with confidence. But it’s CK’s big boasting mouth that gets him in fatal trouble. He says he’ll be in carnage mode for a whole week, and won’t stop his murderous rampage until next Saturday. Saitama takes that to mean today is Saturday, the day of the sale, and he’s missing it!

What’s wonderful about this revelation is how much it’s built up as some kind of fatal mistake Saitama made that relates to his powerful opponent in some way. And CK in Carnage Mode certainly looks like someone who might be able to take a punch. But no, he’s taken out in one punch just like all the others; a punch Saitama really puts his heart into, since he’s so frustrated about missing the sale, though Genos later tells him if they hurry back home they can still make it.

With CK’s demise, decades of Genus’ research goes up in smoke, prompting the professor to consider ending his work on evolution and instead start a personal training regimen. Great stuff.

9_ses

One Punch Man – 02

opm21

The first episode of OPM was going to be a tough act to follow, no matter what, so I fully expected at least a degree of regression in the second. But while that did happen, and this wasn’t nearly as good as the first episode, it was still very good, as Saitama and the young cyborg Genos join forces…or to be precise, Saitama tolerates him being around, despite not really needing anyone to fight supervillains with.

opm22

The two meet over mosquitos. While Saitama finds himself unable to kill a single mosquito buzzing around his apartment, Genos targets Mosquito Girl, the first “sexy” supervillain OPM has fielded (voiced by Sawashiro Miyuki, who is perfect for the role), who uses her giant swarm of mosquitoes to harvest blood from the living things around her, be they animals or people.

opm23

She also puts up a mean fight against Genos, as the two exchange the detachment of limbs and she sacrifices her sworm to power up and start beating Genos to a pulp, until Saitama arrives, running after a mosquito with bug spray. I know this show revels in absurdity, but I would have liked a more clever reason for Saitama to encounter Genos, and Saitama’s puns (“They sure bugged out”; “Mosquitoes suck”) fell to the floor with loud clangs.

opm24

Still, Saitama takes care of Mosquito Girl with one punch, leading Genos to want to become his disciple. Saitama invites him in for some tea once he’s repaired (apparently easy, as long as parts are available) and Genos mistakes Saitama as a fellow cyborg.

He also launches into a monologue of interminable length, which is so long and accompanied by so many still shots (though I liked the micro-story of the pillbug getting up) it stopped being funny. “Drawn-out” comedy has to be utilized sparingly and not taken too far (see a classic example here). But hey, if we were supposed to get as annoyed as Saitama, mission accomplished!

We also learn that Mosquito Girl was just one of dozens of monsters being developed at the “House of Evolution”, run by a bespectacled mad-ish scientist who has his eyes on Saitama and who induced the biggest laugh in the episode:

“Why is he naked?”
“Unknown.”
“Well, whatever.”

opm25

The scientists sends more monsters to escort Saitama to the HoE, but they predictably fail, being one-punched one after the other. He doesn’t even let the mole get away. But what’s funny about this final act is that Genos ends up in a fight with a cyborg he suspects could be the one that killed his family, but is just a gorilla trying to sound cool, while Saitama stays buried in the ground until it’s absolutely necessary to come out because it feels so nice down there.

So yeah, another entertaining episode with some genuinely funny moments, but just not quite as awesome or hilarious as the first. Which, again, is nothing to be ashamed of.

8_ses

Psycho-Pass – 11

pp116

Last week, when Kogami finally made contact with the rest of the team it felt like a victory hard-one by having to balance Yuki’s life with the need to play the game set out for him. All that was left was for him to stay out of Senguji’s sight and wait for the cavalry to move in and destroy the cyborg while Makishima, again let down by one of his “clients”, simply retreats. How wrong I was.

Sensing the MWPSB will be on to him soon if they aren’t already (a suspicious proven right when Akane finds him), Makishima accelerates his plans in the most basic way possible: by exploiting the known weaknesses of his adversaries. Kogami takes out Senguji, but gets shot in the process, and so is helpless to stop Makishima from snatching up Yuki right in front of him.

pp117

Kogami directs Akane to where Makishima was headed, but when she arrives at a catwalk where he’s seemingly waiting for her, she too is utterly powerless to stop him, but not because she’s shot, or because he has a hostage. Akane’s weakness is that she relies on the Cybil system to activate the Dominator, and Makishima’s Psycho-Pass is pure white, despite his obvious criminal conduct.

pp115

I’ve been lambasting Cybil to kingdom come for the whole run of the show, as any free will-loving human being would, but I thought that at least it kind of worked on some level, i.e. is able to identify criminals through cymatic scans. Turns out it can’t’ even do that, at least with Makishima. Sure, he’s just one man, but who’s to say he’s unique in the world? Even if he isn’t, he’s a game-changer.

Makishima in his sporting generosity tosses Akane Senguji’s rifle and gives her an ultimatum: if she doesn’t kill him with that gun, he’s going to slit Yuki’s throat right in front of her. It’s basically the worst choice you can give someone who’s life will be ruined forever the moment she pulls that trigger. But I guess that’s his point: Makishima will have value for him if she puts in an effort.

p118

But she doesn’t. She can’t. She holds the rifle with one hand, wobbles and shakes, closes her eyes, and aims nowhere in particular. She’s lucky she didn’t accidentally shoot herself, but poor Yuki isn’t so lucky. The round misses her, but Sakishima’s razor doesn’t: punishment for his disappointment. He then disappears, leaving Akane to fester in her grief.

We’ll see how Akane’s hue fares following the most traumatic experience of her life by far: not only watching her friend be murdered before her eyes, but being unable to save her despite possessing the exact tools to do so. Makishima is convinced his criminal coefficient is nil because criminality cannot be measured by the Cybil system. His will to observe humanity “in all its splendor” is impervious to technology; impervious to judgement.

p119

Right now Makishima is just getting his jollies testing how far he can go with that goal, and how many others like him he can find. Akane seems like a long shot, but he’s really excited about Kogami, who after all didn’t lift a finger to stop Makishima because he was bleeding out, not because he lacked the will.

Here’s where I have to ask, isn’t there some kind of entity in government that is above Cybil, so that society can be defended against those like Makishima? It doesn’t seem like there is, so I guess it’s up to the MWPSB. They certainly have their work cut out for them. As for this show, it’s found a new level of cruelty.

10_bravRABUJOI World Heritage List

Psycho-Pass – 10

pp101

Makishima is one magnificently manipulative bastard. Initially, his newest mark Senguji Toyohisa believes Makishima merely procured fresh, intelligent prey for him to hunt the old-fashioned way with a twist: a big shotgun and robo-foxhounds. But Senguji is only a formidable but ultimately expendable means to test Kogami, and while he’s not quite out of the frying pan by episode’s end, he’s passed that test so far.

pp102

Makishima’s scheme seems ridiculously convoluted at first: kidnapping Akane’s friend Funahara Yuki, using her phone to text Akane about something, assuming Kogami would accompany her to the obvious trap where he’d go in and enter Senguji’s hunt. But as Kogami puts it all together, it’s all very elegant an ingenious. Senguji typically hunts for his own amusement, but this time someone’s “watching from the bleachers,” and not actually rooting for him, but Kogami.

pp103

As I said, Kogami doesn’t disappoint, treading carefully, noticing when things aren’t right and knowing when to run and hide. Poor Yuki doesn’t know what the hell is going on, and would’ve gotten killed a dozen times over, but she’s not a cop. When Kogami realizes he’s the target, he also realizes Yuki’s presence there has a purpose he hadn’t considered.

pp103a

That’s when instead of leaving her behind, he tells her to strip, and ends up finding the transponder antenna hidden in her bra which she didn’t even know was there. This was ultimately a very weird but clever extended application of fanservice, as there turned out to be a logical reason for Yuki to be running around in her nightie, but required significant intelligence—and grace under pressure—to divine.

pp104

When Kogami treads too far into the abandoned complex, Akane loses all contact with him, and when Gino arrives with backup, he’s quick to suggest Kogami may have set this whole thing up to run away, and Akane was naive enough to trust him. When he decides they’re going in with Dominators, essentially leaving it up to Cybil whether he should live or die, then telling Akane she only has herself to blame for it, Gino’s far enough across the line to piss of Masaoka, who grabs him and throws him against a crate.

pp105

Before things get right out of hand, the question of whether Kogami ran away is settled when he makes contact with the transponder. He and Yuki aren’t out of there yet, but Makishima has intentionally given him a fighting chance, however small, and he’s going to take it. And while I sorely hope Yuki gets out of this okay, if she doesn’t, that can’t possibly bode well for Akane’s Psycho-Pass.

9_brav

Psycho-Pass – 09

pp91

What sets Psycho-Pass apart from just about everything else I’m watching at the moment is the uncanny deftness and elegance with which it expresses its ideas and themes. It also helps that while the bad guys are, by most conventional appraisals, evil sadistic bastards, and yet they’re anything but boring. This is a show that possesses the very charisma the show defines: It has the nature of a hero or prophet; an ability to make you feel good when you’re watching it, and the intelligence to talk about all sorts of things.

pp92

That three-part definition is offered by Ex-Professor Saiga, who once lectured both Kogami and Gino, and whose lectures were shut down when the hues of many of his students—all inspectors-in-training—started to get cloudy, turning them into latent criminals by Cybil’s standards. Kogami brings Akane (or rather, Akane allows Kogami to take her) to Saiga to meet him and learn from him, if only a little bit in a short time. After all, Kogami is the detective he is because he learned a lot from Saiga, so if you want to be a good detective, any exposure to him is a good thing.

pp93

That seems to be what Akane wants. Her household AI jests that she’s preparing as if she were going on a date, and it is a date, in a police-nerdy kinda way. At the same time, Saiga is someone she would never have known about were it not for Kogami. But the main point is, she is steadfast in her commitment to treating Kogami as an equal, despite his lower official status in society. So much so, that she has to suspend her senpai-kohai relationship to Gino when he goes to far in admonishing her for seeing Saiga.

pp94

Going back to Adam and Eve, knowledge is power, but comes at the cost of paradise. Cybil is mankind’s attempt to rebuild a Garden of Eden, which has its own cost; a life without stress is a life pointless and short, perhaps shorter than a Hobbesian world. To maintain Eden, those deemed unworthy are constantly cast out to live below the rest. “Unworthy”, in this case, are those who ask too many questions; amass too much knowledge; seek too much individuality.

pp95

The exquisite analogy Kogami presents to Akane on their autonomous car ride home: knowledge is a swamp you can’t see the bottom of, but cannot check unless you dive in. Even Kogami wasn’t allowed out of the swamp once he dove too deep. Worse, one person’s descent means their entire family is marked for death, as the powers that be are just waiting for science to prove criminality is hereditary. Gino, who lost a father and colleague, doesn’t want to lose Akane too, which is why he’s so harsh on her.

pp96

While events may ultimately determine Gino was being overprotective—Akane is constantly being described as having an uncommonly clear and resilient psyche—there’s also a very real possibility that she could end up going down the very same path as Kogami. What’s so awesome about Akane is that she may already be okay with that. Between protecting one’s own hue or solving crimes/protecting the people, she considers the latter far more important. But as she says, she is new, and has no idea what lurks in that swamp.

pp97

Take Senguji Toyohisa, a cyborg who is, aside from his brain and nervous system, entirely machine in composition. He’s a particularly arrogant cyborg as well, pitying all of humanity that are content living out their lives in their sacks of meat. Running parallel to the discussions Saiga, Akane and Kogami are Senguji’s own ideas. Where he isn’t wrong is that science is about bettering mankind, which is done through the development of technology. Once we learned how to live long lives, we set about ways to make those lives more efficient and pleasant.

pp98

He believes his “transition” to a timeless artificial body is just the next natural step in the human struggle to become immortal; to become the very god who expelled us from paradise. Like Akane’s decision to continue diving into the swamp, his choice had a cost—that of his body—but he subscribed to Plato’s thinking that the body was but a prison. With his new mechanical body he’s free to pursue his mind’s full potential, which seems to consist of hunting people down with a rifle. To each their own, huh?

pp99

Makishima is right there beside him, all charisma and validation; literally playing with the edge of a razor; composing his latest symphony; providing Senguji with his next prey: Kogami. For the first time, the good guys are the direct target of the bad guy, though I’m confident this is nothing but a test by Makishima. If Kogami can’t pass it, he wasn’t worth fussing over. As for how Akane fits into all this when Makishima becomes aware of her, well…We’ll see just how tough and resilient her psyche really is!

9_brav