BEATLESS – 02

Arato doesn’t really yet know he has a fugitive in his house, so I’ll forgive him for letting Yuka enroll Lacia in a fashion hIE competition that she then promptly wins. Still, considering all the danger he encountered upon meeting Lacia, you’d think he’d be a bit more careful.

But nope; the fashion thing goes through, Arato tells his friends at school (who agree with me that he’s probably not taking this seriously enough) and even lets Lacia accompany him on the train when he leaves his tablet at school.

Lacia shows him the nice view from the school roof he’s never seen, but the episode suffers from a lack of stakes or impending doom until the very end. Arato doesn’t sense any danger, which makes him less informed than us. If he had any notable qualities, that could be forgiven, but he’s pretty much a big not-steaming pile of meh.

That makes the fact he stumbled backwards into ownership of an elite luxury hIE all the more grating. He hasn’t really done anything but accept ownership; presumably he’ll start to experience the negative consequences of his choice, but this week he doesn’t.

Instead, he merely tags along during a live Lacia fashion shoot and “analog hack” that goes on too long and attracts a dubiously large crowd. It never comes across as anything but a tremendously bad idea.

All the while, I was thinking that at some point, Memeframe will come looking for her in some capacity, although perhaps the destruction caused in their escape hindered their ability to track their property. As for Arato’s nerdy friend Kengo, he’s paid a visit by Kouka, who doesn’t seem particularly interested in having an owner or following commands.

If Memeframe isn’t going to come into the picture soon, maybe Kouka and the other escaped fugitives can bring the storm…because this ep was too heavy on the calm.

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BEATLESS – 01 (First Impressions)

Yeah, we usually started in September…

In a technologically-advanced, highly automated future where androids called hIEs serve mankind and are treated as tools, nondescript protagonist Endou Arato does have one unique quality: he has compassion for these “tools” as if they were real humans with souls.

He helps the hIE assisting an elderly woman cross the street, and takes the disembodied arm of an hIE to the police. He’s a good kid, even if his friends scratch their heads at what they see as unnecessary behavior.

In addition to a somewhat cryptic cold open in which he watches hIEs being made and coming to life (and going wrong for that matter), I felt Arato’s ingrained compassion would end up working in his favor even as five Memeframe Corp. elite hIEs violently escape from their cage in Odaiba and scatter, causing chaos and destruction in their wake.

BEATLESS may not be the most groundbreaking stuff, but it does realize and advance quite a few pieces of tech still in their relative infancy today, such as fully autonomous cars, robotic eldercare assistants, and even clothes with built-in climate control.

The way the military operates here in trying to apprehend the hIEs is also well-grounded in existing tech, with the bots doing the fighting while the humans keep a (mostly) safe distance. We also see the downside to dependence on so much technology (the aforementioned chaos and destruction). Kouka (the red hIE) seems to place as much importance on human life as Arato’s friends place on hIEs.

Speaking of chaos and destruction, Arato is cursed with one hell of a piece of work of a little sister in Yuka, who lounges around waiting for dinner, then eats all the meat before Arato is done cooking the rest, forcing him to go out and buy more a mere hour and a half from midnight.

After shopping at a nightmare supermarket with no human employees, he encounters an hIE acquaintance, “Ms. Marie” whom he laments he doesn’t have at home to help deal with household duties (since Yuka presumably does none).

Just as he does, one of the not-so-nice hIEs, Snowdrop, uses “flower petals” to hack every piece of machinery in the area, and both Ms. Marie and the nearby cars start trying to kill Arato…until he’s saved by a nice hIE.

This powder blue-haired hIE, Lacia, determines Arato would make a good “owner”, and she needs such an owner to take responsibility in order for her to take action. After a lengthy, somewhat momentum-killing but still kinda amusing scene in which he accepts the terms of the license agreement (as one does), Lacia eliminates the threat with something akin to an EMP.

Yuka initially wigs out when Arato brings Lacia home, but quickly falls in love after Lacia quickly prepares a sumptuous midnight repast for the Endous. Later, while serving Arato tea, Lacia reiterates to him that she has no soul, and that her “behavior” is just programming. But Arato doesn’t care, because Lacia moved him nevertheless.

‘Treat others as you’d like to be treated, even if those others are artificial’ seems as good a slogan for Arato as any, especially if the not-so-nice fugative hIEs out there start terrorizing the population. I can’t imagine it will be long before Memeframe or the military find Lacia and Arato and Yuka get dragged into a good bit of drama. I suppose I’ll watch on for now and see.

Kekkai Sensen & Beyond – 05

In Blood Blockade Battlefront you can be assured you’ll get a fun, action-packed romp – with the added intrigue of having no alterworldly idea where that action is going to come from or what mission it will serve.

This week’s focus is on Klaus’ venerable, dutiful combat butler, Gilbert Franke Altstein, who is picking up some supplies with Leo when he’s suddenly snatched up by a giant flying eel-monster, breaking his back clean through.

Gilbert is a comically tough old dude, so he’s mostly fine, but his back needs time to fully heal or it will keep breaking. Head Maid Bates quickly dispatches the young combat butler Phillip Lenore to take over for him.

Leo’s first impression of him is of a “loud and oppresive” presence, but to Zapp and Chain’s shock, Lenore makes a cup of tea Klaus will drink, and while out in the city, Philip notices a monster trying to snatch Leo’s wallet—which Leo tells him is a frequent enough occurance for him to carry nothing but spare change, keeping his cash elsewhere on his person.

Phillip, like any sane or normal person, thinks it unbelievable someone like Leo could survive in HSL, but as we know, not all parts of the city are dangerous all the time. Not to mention he has powerful friends looking out for him (even if help arrives late).

While pondering whether he could ever truly succeed Gilbert over a drink at a bar with a cute bartender, the entire establishment is suddenly swallowed by the friend of the pickpocket, and they extract Phillip’s brain. Turns out he shouldn’t have been worrying about Leo, but himself.

When Gilbert notices Phillip is missing an eye and his brain (which the criminals are using to see through his other eye), he refuses help from Klaus (as a butler, Phillip would regret putting his master in danger for the rest of his life), and asks Leo to use his eyes to find the brain…which he does.

Zapp, Zed, and Leo join Gilbert in his ultra-trick motorcar and the brainless Phillip to help retrieve the brain. Gilbert gives the baddies three options, one of which (hand it over without a fuss) would prevent the need for any further conflict; the other two (we’ll take it, or if you destroy it, we’ll kill you)…don’t. The crims don’t take the old man seriously…to their peril.

It never gets old when B3 turns up the volume, ratchets up the action, and gets down to business, and Gilbert’s raid on the criminals is no exception. While numerous and heavily armed, the bad guys are no match for Gilbert, his car, and the two Z’s, all while Leo leads them to the brain with his eyes.

After getting the car airborne and turning it into a kind of motorcycle (scrunching the four guys in the back seat even more), a good number of explosions and enemy casualties, the glass bulb containing Phillip’s brain and eye are safely retrieved. Oh, and Gilbert reveals he’s a Regeneratore when he’s literally cut in half but not killed.

While recovering in the hospital, Gilbert tells Phillip, whose face is now half metal as a result of his ordeal, finally has a “face for this city,” for which he should be proud. As for actually joining Libra (and thus automatically making his brain worth millions to the criminal underground), Phil is “thanks, but no thanks.” He needs a bit more seasoning. Meanwhile, Klaus does just fine without any butler at all!

Glasslip – 08

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This episode could best be summed up thus:

Touka be Glasstrippin’.

[drops mic]

sesameacrylic OUT. Have a good night! Drive safe!

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Huh? Oh…alright, I’ll say a bit more. Here’s what we know: Touka’s hallucinations are getting longer and more intense, now replacing whole chunks of the real world with…something else entirely, including this week’s titular “snow.” They seem to get stronger when she’s around Kakeru—not exclusively so (she has a pretty strong one alone at the glass studio), but enough to make her afraid to get too close to her. Kakeru is also afraid, and with good cause: he likes Touka; I’m sure he doesn’t want to accidentally “break” her!

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That’s about all we know. This episode doesn’t give us any answers, but only deepens and intensifies the mystery. It also has Touka and Kakeru’s “connection” arriving at the point where they can’t hide it from the others anymore, even if they’re worried they won’t be believed (and who can blame them? no one else can see or hear what they do). It’s notable that the episode closes with Kakeru placing his hands on a panicking Touka’s trembling shoulders (right after she envisioned him grabbing and kissing her). Despite the distinct possibility he’s causing this, Kakeru can’t leave her side; not while she’s like this.

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That’s a tricky situation no matter how you slice it; one that either of them would probably happily trade for the more conventional relationship troubles their friends are presently embroiled in. Weakest of these is the Yana/Yuki/Hina triad, in which Touka’s sister continues to observe the other two in a way that borders on the voyeuristic. Back in the pool, poppet! We’re also treated to Yana walking around her house buck naked…for some reason, then she decides to run when and where Yuki ran. Alright, then!

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Yuki, meanwhile, blew town for a late summer track camp, where he fits back in with his old teammates right up until the point they all breeze past him. It could be the case that even taking things nice and slow won’t give Yuki back what he lost, athletically speaking. Or is his heartache causing him to unconsciously loaf? I don’t know, but he’s technically the first member of the circle of friends to have left town (though he’ll probably return) and he didn’t tell anyone (not even Yana) that he was going. Yeesh.

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Touka and Kakeru are getting more interesting as a couple thanks to all the mysterious doins-a-transpirin’, but on the other side of town, our favorite couple doesn’t need any fancypants supernatural whatsit to be compelling. Sachi who is imperfect and wonderful, feels bad about using Hiro, and lonely that he doesn’t show on her last day at the hospital. Momo says Hi, ignorant as she is of their spat (her poor sad car’s deterioration proceeds apace). I love how devastated both Sachi and Hiro are; this is their first time, after all, and it shows. I hope they can make up, or else we’re through, Glasslip.

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Still, while what Sachi did was wrong, and she knows it, I’m not sure she wouldn’t do it all over again if given the chance. Even if she regrets it (and I’m sure she does, considering her reaction to Hiro’s reaction), a part of her also must regret not being able to follow through on her plan to break up Kakeru’s date. Touka’s hallucinations are strange, but they’re also dark. Perhaps Sachi somehow senses that darkness in Kakeru, and her happiness with Hiro took a backseat to her desire to protect Touka. Judging from what I’ve seen, I can’t rule out her being in the right: maybe Kakeru is dangerous.

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