Wizard Barristers: Benmashi Cecil – 08

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Well, it isn’t as if the show’s been coy about this, but damn, Cecil really is beset on all sides by foes! Thanks to the progress made between them in these last couple episodes, Natsuna isn’t one of them. She even offers to help out with research on Cecil’s mom’s case, albeit in a tsundere kind of way. And Cecil’s wise-seeming father looks past the surface tension to perceive Natsuna as a valuable friend and ally. And it looks like Cecil is going to need as many of those as she can get.

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What looked ostensibly like a “girl’s road trip”-turned-“coming home” story turned out to be much more, as the other members of the Butterfly delegation are led into a trap by their Boston counterpart, Diana who turns out to be very evil. At the same time, Cecil and Natsuna’s lovely little log cabin/maple/syrup/boat retreat is crashed by the hitchhiker Kaede, whom Cecil’s familiar Nanajiinyi felt a faint murderous intent from earlier. In addition to the correct tarot readings by both Sasori and Cecil’s dad, it’s clear that on this show, you take people’s intuitions seriously!

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Kaede challenges Cecil to a metamoloid duel, and when Cecil’s childhood home is destroyed in an instant, it’s enough to force her to summon metal from distant cities to build her own, overpowering and defeating Kaede in the process. But both Kaede and Diana’s Sudden But Inevitable Betrayals are soon cut short by a combination of Cecil and the other Barristers fighting back (respectively) and by their sudden and quite horrific deaths by unknown magical powers. Back in Tokyo, Shizumu reports to his dad that they bowed out of their “missions.” Things are definitely afoot.

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Even more intriguing is the fact that a couple weeks after saving Cecil’s life, Tento appears in Canada—and not by plane—apparently annoyed that Diana and Kaese “jumped the gun.” Obviously Tento is more than just a flirty, ketchup and whipped cream-loving paralegal, and she’s far more powerful than anyone around her is aware. We’re not even sure she’s actually on Cecil’s (or anyone’s) side. All we know is, we fully agree with Cecil that it’s time to get back to researching the incident with her mom…and this time she’s got Natsuna to help out!

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Kami nomi zo Shiru Sekai: Megami-hen – 10

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Keima tries to accelerate a quick route to conquest at the school festival, but Ayumi hates him and Chihiro keeps showing up at the worst times. After failing to form an alliance with Chihiro, he seeks out Ayumi, but Chihiro gets to her first. Vintage, led by Lune, launches a coordinated attack on the goddesses, capturing all of Keima’s past conquests along with Keima, Chihiro and Ayumi.

The trio is rescued by Haqua, who was quietly smuggled out of Hell by her boss Dokuro and charged with stopping Vintage. Katsuragi lets Ayumi leave but takes Chihiro and Haqua home, where they find Kanon missing. Diana appears, having not been kidnapped, and she and Haqua argue over who’ll launch a potentially suicidal assault on the Vintage base at Point Rock. Keima decides the best route is to continue his conquest of Ayumi, release Mercurius, and unite the goddesses as planned.

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This is the second time in two days we’ve dealt with an episode in which the bad guys execute a stunning and devastating move that puts our heroes’ backs up against the wall. Last week, Keima was uninterested in the miscellaneous affairs beyond his conquest of the goddess hosts. This week, he has no choice, as Vintage forces the issue, threatening not only his original (and relatively small-scale) mission, but also New Hell and Earth itself.

Last week’s diversion to Point Rock was a little flimsy, but the raised stakes work here. Not only that, the episode pulls Haqua from out of nowhere and suddenly has us actually caring about her. Turns out her boss wasn’t a crook after all, and makes sure her most trusted officer is on Earth where she can be of the greatest use. If it weren’t for Haqua, it would be Game Over for Keima. But both she and Diana want to start a war with Vintage; a war Keima doesn’t believe either of them can win on their own.

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In addition to making things we hadn’t deemed relevant relevant, the episode balanced action and exposition with a fair amount of comedy, as Keima digs a deeper and deeper hole for himself versus Ayumi, until all hell breaks loose, and in the chaos, Keima completely abandons pretense and tact. He mutters things out loud that he’d normally only think; he tries to get Chihiro to “form an alliance” (and gets pummeled for it); and at episode’s end Chihiro is essentially his (very confused) hostage.

But in the end, he’s the cooler head who rejects going out in a blaze of glory, as Haqua or Diana would do. He’s getting his game back on the rails, and will not deviate. He’ll release that last goddess from within Ayumi or die trying – in which case the world may well die with him. You gotta work with what you know…and he knows how to win the girls.

9_superiorRating: 9 (Superior)

Kami nomi zo Shiru Sekai: Megami-hen – 09

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When Keima is about to kiss Chihiro, she tells him it’s her first, meaning she isn’t hosting a goddess. Shocked by her unexpected declaration of love, Keima rejects her outright. Ayumi saw how he treated Chihiro and kicks him. While bathing, Diana tries to get Keima to “love Tenri more” so she’ll sprout wings; refuses. While at school with Elcie, examining their school emblem starts him on a route that discovers an enormous plot involving Vintage raising loose souls beneath Point Rock, but drops the investigation and gets back to his conquest of Ayumi.

So, the show did pull the twist and make Ayumi the host. Again, not particularly surprising. Once Keima realizes kissing Chihiro won’t release a goddess, his calculating mind decides to slam on the brakes and make a quick u-turn, running right over Chihiro’s feelings. It’s a cruel and not totally-out-of-character move by a guy who has said many times he’ll never fall for a real girl. He does consider Chihiro’s feelings – briefly – in his mind, but in the end, he ignores his conscience and brings the hammer down, hard.

We wouldn’t be surprised if Chihiro now hates his guts, meaning he ruined a potential post-goddess arc romance not sullied by the supernatural. But hey, apparently he doesn’t want that, so on with the mission! About that: while he couldn’t have known Ayumi was spying on him, he could have helped his cause much better had he not so harshly and mercilessly rejected Chihiro. In doing his u-turn, he obviously forgot the two are close friends, and Ayumi isn’t just going to leap in his arms because he says he loves her. Now his job to conquer her will be that much tougher.

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Rating:7 (Very Good)

Stray Observations:

  • We think Ayumi went a bit too far following and spying on Keima and Chihiro. It felt like the plot needed her to see Keima reject Chihiro in order to complicate things for him later, so…there she was.
  • We liked how all of her celebrity treatment has rubbed of on her to the point she’s started acting and talking like one. 
  • We lost some respect for Keima for so deeply hurting Chihiro, but gained a lot back when he started that convoluted sidequest…only to drop it immediately. He can’t be bothered to worry about all that supernatural Vintage conspiracy crap…just like us!

Kami nomi zo Shiru Sekai: Megami-hen – 08

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Haqua is attending a briefing at the New Hell Bureau of the Peace, when she asks the chief about the rumors that Vintage has infiltrated the Loose Souls Team. When she tries to return to earth, she’s arrested and thrown in jail. Back on earth, Diana has Keima assemble the released goddesses and show them Apollo/Kanon. They combine their powers to call to her, and Keima is drawn into a world created by Apollo, where she is praying to shift the fortunes of his town.

Keima has three days to find the last goddess. Based on past events he determines Chihiro to be the most likely host, and so chooses to conquer her first. He accepts when she asks him to be her date for the Festival Eve bonfire. He also asks Ayumi that it’s her last chance to get mad at him, and she doesn’t. That night Keima and Chihiro slink away from the fire to find a more private spot. Back in New Hell, Haqua is charged with treason as the Vintage infiltrator  Lune gloats.

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Both Chihiro and Ayumi like Keima, but only one of them likes him because the goddess she’s hosting restored her memories of his conquest of her. The other likes him because she really likes him, which means (to us at least) that whichever girl has those real feelings should still have them after the Goddess dilemma has been resolved. If Chihiro is the final host, then Ayumi is the one who really loves him. So…is Chihiro the final host? Keima is certainly operating under that assumption on the first of three remaining days before crunch time.

But we wouldn’t put it past this show to pull a twist on us and make Ayumi the host. There are certainly enough episodes left for another twist or two, so we’ll see. In any case, if the arc ends with neither of the girls liking him, that wouldn’t make sense to us…unless his choosing of the goddess girl makes the non-goddess girl fall out of love with him. It’s not like he’d be able to explain to her what he’s been through all season, after all.

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Rating:7 (Very Good)

Stray Observations:

  • Once the goddesses are all awake, they start fighting over Keima for their hosts’ sakes. Seriously gals, there’re other guys that exist in the world!
  • Diana/Tenri definitely sprouted wings in episode 4 after Keima apologized to her, yet here she is, still wingless. We guess they were just temporary wings…
  • Why did Haqua blurt out her suspicions when for all she knew, the Vintage infiltrator was there (and, indeed, Lune was right there)? We’re not that invested in all these silly New Hell politics, but are curious to learn who’ll rescue her.

Kami nomi zo Shiru Sekai: Megami-hen – 04

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Keima is confident Shiori is hosting a goddess, but he can move on to anyone else, he’s cornered in the library by Tsukiyo’s doll, Luna, who reveals that Tsukiyo is hosting the goddess Vulcanus, who cannot move her body but only manipulate other objects. She attacks Keima believing him to be unfaithful. Meanwhile, Nora discovers the miasma-covered Kanon, and Haqua has to explain. Keima gets beaten up to the point Tsukiyo trusts him and gives him a kiss while he’s passed out. The kiss boosts her goddess powers and she sprouts wings.

Diana meets with her sister and Keima takes them to Kanon, where they combine their powers to remove the Vintage Weiss curse. Even so, Apollo is still very weak and casts a “hydration” spell on herself, keeping Kanon unconscious. With three goddesses left to awaken, Keima reaches a deal with Nora to delay her report to her superiors for a week. Jealous of her sister’s wings, Diana/Tenri confronts Keima right as Haqua is insisting he tells her he needs her. Keima apologizes to Diana, and she sprouts wings as well.

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Keima is deep into the RPG of his life, with the role of agent of the preservation of New Hell, only he isn’t playing a game. Whereas the first season of TWGOK, the stakes were limited to his life and perhaps the lives of his conquests, this time an entire dimension is at stake, only the united goddesses can save it, and only he can release them from the girls he’s conquered. So far so good; despite working with limited resources and a very tight-knit network of girls with endless possibilities for slip-ups, he’s comported himself well and even facilitated the release of the curse on Kanon.

As the details of Keima’s grand mission and the myriad complications from all sides pile up, the entire series is ever on the cusp of being swallowed up in plot, but this season has been very clever at dispensing huge amounts of exposition while keeping the story moving with swiftness and urgency. It also knows just when to lighten things with a quip or observation that all of this is, in fact, quite absurd. An example of this is the fact that while the girls who remember loving Keima are all competing against one another, so too are the goddesses they host, and even Haqua is competing with Nora for Keima’s favor. Never a dull moment for this guy.

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Rating: 8 
(Great)

The World God Only Knows III – 01

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When not playing dating sims, Katsuragi Keima continues to extract loose souls from troubled young women with the help of the demon Elucia de Lute Ima. After summarizing his past conquests, he heads to school with Elsie and is stopped by his neighbor and childhood friend Ayukawa Tenri, who suddenly grows a halo and changes demeanor. It turns out the goddess Diana is possessing her, and wants Keima to marry her so she can gain power and restore the balance between heaven, earth, and hell that’s currently off.

Meanwhile, J-pop idol and Keima’s classmate and former conquest Nakagawa Kanon is a vessel for Diana’s older sister Apollo. As a result of the presence of these “Jupiter Sisters”, both Tenri and Kanon remember everything about their romantic exploits with Keima. Kanon latches on to Keima in the middle of a test, fearful of someone chasing her, and Apollo comes out, having recieved a boost, and then withdraws. Apollo is then captured by Lune, a demon, member of Vintage and part of the movement to restore hell to its former glory.

While sometimes our opinions of various anime can vary wildly, we pride ourselves on being mostly consistent. So we went back to the review of the last episode of TWGOKII to re-familiarize ourselves with our thoughts on the close of that series:

“Keima is simply doomed for life to make girls fall in love with him and then lose them”

“For all the girls whose lives he’s changed by releasing them from loose souls, Keima remains stubbornly static”

“None of the relationships he forms ever have any lasting emotional effect on him”

“If another season is just going to continue the by-now tired formula, it’s going to be very hard to watch”

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Once Keima learned that none of his conquests would stick once the loose soul was extracted, he stopped caring about the aftermaths of those conquests. And why wouldn’t he? The girls went back to the way they used to feel about him. The reset button was pressed, again and again. For Keima, emotional detachment was the key to avoiding getting his heart broken every time.

This inclusion of the Jupiter Sisters, while seeming a bit tacked-on, and the resulting restored memories of his conquests, may be the kick in the pants this series needs to regain some freshness – and our interest. It also helps that there are no other series we’re watching that air when it airs, otherwise we’d definitely give it the boot.

In a subtle but clever parallel to his new situation and impending role this season, before shutting down his game center, he saves all of his in-progress dating sims. The goddesses serve as memory cards for real life, having saved the conquests Keima believed to be deleted. But it brings up a potential fatal flaw in this resurgence: if the goddesses leave the girls, surely they’ll take the memories too. We’ll see how it goes…for now.


Rating: 6 (Good)

Stray Observations:

  • This episode summarizes Keima’s conquest of Goidou Yui in the manga, as well as his conquest of Tenri in an OVA we never got around to watching. We got the jist, though!
  • Every time Keima’s conquest lost her memories it hurt a little bit, but we really liked Kanon’s arc, so we’re glad the series starts off with her remembering everything.
  • Way back, we also said the reset button prevented Keima from being in a harem situation, since only one girl liked him at a time. But that would no longer seem to be the case. It will be interesting to see how Keima, who’s played dozens of dating sims at once, deals with a real-life version of that situation!