Arte – 11 – Crossroads

Having made excellent progress with Katarina, Arte gets back to the official reason for coming to Venice: Lady Sofia’s portrait. Arte also paints a portrait of Katarina, and accompanies her to the workshop to learn more about artisans first-hand.

While there, the apprentice Matei states that he “envies” Arte for being an educated noblewoman and an artist, and when she sees his battered hands, this compels her to step up her work considerably. Aside from her modeling sessions during her portrait, Katarina never sees Arte.

She stays up all night sketching and studying, not eating any the food Daphne brings. After being told she was the wrong gender for the world of artisans, suddenly hearing the opposite lights a fire under her.

As one would imagine, this eventually catches up to Arte, and sure enough Daphne and Katarina find her passed out from overwork and exhaustion. For this, Yuri gives her a very stern, businesslike talking-to that amounts to “I don’t care about your problems, don’t make my niece cry again.”

She eventually recovers and finishes Katarina’s portrait, and Kat is so bowled over by its quality she rushes back to the workshop to show Matei that Arte isn’t just an educated noblewoman who paints, but an immensely talented artist in her own right.

After meeting with Matei Arte must’ve thought she wasn’t dedicating enough time to art and was wasting her privilege. Of course, that’s rubbish! We’ve seen Arte work till she literally vomits; no one, including herself, can call her a loafer or coaster.

Both Arte and Leo also have moments this week when they truly miss each other (though Leo puts up a stoic front as always). Presumably Arte will return to Venice, but then again, perhaps not: Yuri offers to be her full-time patron going forward if she remains in Venice permanently.

That means a steady wage and a comfortable life, neither of which any woman of any station can take for granted in these times. If Yuri and his sister-in-law are satisfied with her portraits, perhaps there’s nothing more Leo can teach her she hasn’t already learned during her solo time in Venice.

We know Katarina doesn’t want her to go, but what does Arte want? Is her personal and professional bond with Leo worth declining a potentially once-in-a-lifetime offer? (Leo would probably say no way.) Yuri gives her until she finishes Sofia’s portrait to decide. I wonder which path she’ll choose!

Arte – 10 – For Her Sake

When Katarina invites Arte to a meal, it’s more than just servants preparing everything for them. Katarina is in the middle of everything, working hard with the help, and not thinking of them as mere servants. Arte’s never seen her more happy. What gets Katarina down is the prospect of returning home to her parents’ house, which has never felt like home to her, so how can she be happy there?

A large part of that unhappiness stems from Katarina’s disgust for the nobility’s inclination towards always wanting there to be a clear difference between themselves and poorer levels of society. Her egalitarian attitude was developed by osmosis when she was raised far from Venice by her wet nurse Buona, who had a son Gimo with whom Katarina was close. When Buona suddenly died (as people did with far more regularity back then) she was thrust back to Venice, separated from the only home and family she knew to that point.

Yuri tells her about Katarina’s past in order to contextualize his opinion on the matter: Katarina finding her happiness depends on her ability to accept that she’s in the place she’s supposed to be, where that happiness is to be found, and that moving forward is the only way to find it. Even so, Arte can tell there’s a serious lack of closure, so she offers to take Katarina to see Gimo.

As Arte observes how both Katarina’s parents and servants act around her, it becomes clear that no one is really looking at the girl. When she overhears Malta complaining about how expensive her dowry’s going to be, and Sofia not challenging him, Arte recalls how her own parents argued spiritedly about her. The difference is, while they disagreed on the details, they were arguing for her sake.

Yuri tells Arte that Gimo is on Murano Island, and maintains his utmost faith not in her, but in his decision to choose her. It’s an interesting distinction, but Yuri didn’t become the rich and successful person he is by doubting his instincts.

On the island, Gimo regards Katarina coldly, but mostly out of deference to his mother Buona, who told him he couldn’t have any more contact with Katarina, since she was a noble. Their being a family was a beautiful dream, but that’s over.

Gimo tells her that there are times when he has to do things he doesn’t like, but because he was able to face forward properly and move on, he knows Katarina can do the same. When she does, he’ll look forward to welcoming her back with a smile.

Upon returning to Venice, Katarina ends up in bed sick for three days, and Arte is dismissed by Malta for failing to live up to her expectations. However, Katarina appears before her parents, performs all the requisite aristocratic gestures perfectly, and begs them not to fire Arte.

While Malta and Sofia are shocked to see their daughter behaving so properly, Malta still bristles at the idea of changing his mind, until Sofia, her hands trembling, speaks up and offers her opinion to her husband for the first time, agreeing that for Katarina’s sake, keeping Arte around is best.

Katarina’s home was a house of closed hearts, but thanks to Arte’s sentiments on doing things for someone’s sake, Sofia and Katarina’s hearts are now open. Like Arte, Katarina is a modern young woman with modern ideas, and they’re steadily learning together the ways to strike a balance between their modern values and the customs and obligations of their class.

Arte – 09 – The Tiny Gourmet

Katarina proves to be a handful to Arte, who is still disoriented by Venice, where not only do people dress differently but the very air she breathes smells different. While Arte received a crash course in Venetian etiquette from Yuri, to her shock Katarina is actually exemplary at etiquette; she simply chooses not to demonstrate it in public—or to her parents—because it’s “such a pain” and she’d rather spend her time napping.

Arte’s new servant friend Daphne tells her all the other tutors quit because of Katarina’s lousy attitude. Yuri admitted to Arte that painters are “a dime a dozen” in Venice, so she must assume he hired her more for her potential as a tutor to Katarina. But what does she, Arte, bring to the table that’s new?

Arte finds herself thinking and worrying so much about her fitness as a tutor that she gets pains in her stomach. But when Daphne takes her to a church so she can see and sketch the wonderful works housed therein, she’s approached by a couple men who praise her work then mock Florence for stooping to letting girls be artisans.

Much to Daphne’s shock, Arte not only takes their mocking in stride, but laughs about it. Those misogynist pricks showed her that not everything in Venice is different, and she’s not any different than the young woman who overcame overwhelming odds in Florence. She just needs to do her best here, like she’s always done. Doubt and anxiety won’t serve her.

The next day, Arte dithes the local garb and dons her workshop frock, which itself surprises Katarina. But part of Arte’s new wardrobe also meant removing the kid gloves: when Katarina tries to nod off, Arte plucks her out of bed and parks her in a chair, and in that chair she stays until she explains why she won’t practice the etiquette she knows in public.

She refuses, but Arte isn’t about to be discouraged now that she’s regained her confidence. She’s dealt with greater challenges in the past, and in a battle of wills between Arte and Katarina, I simply can’t bet against Arte.

That night, Arte makes a crude dress for Katarina to play in, and destroys a barrel so that they can go hoop rolling together, something at which Katarina is already an old hand. While this shows the girl that Arte can let loose and have fun, she can still smell her ulterior motive, and so her lips remain tight despite having had a genuinely good time.

Katarina’s mother Sofia tells Arte how her husband never wanted a daughter, and how all of her upbringing was to ensure she wouldn’t embarrass the family prior to being married off. Sofia believes that’s the reason Katarina hasn’t opened her heart to anyone in the house.

That night Arte visits Katarina’s room, having seen her light on late at night, and discovers her deep, dark secret, hinted at before: Katarina has a passion for cooking, deemed a job for lowly servants. Arte tries to reach out, but Katarina assumes she’ll rat her out, and demands that she leave at once.

The next day we see that Katarina has opened her heart to someone; namely her uncle Yuri, who unlike her father doesn’t see her as a burden to be married off, but a treasure whose passions should be nurtured. You can tell how close they are by the fact they’re cooking together without a care in the world…only Katarina is certain this will be the last time they do so.

Alas, when she returns home and her parents don’t broach the sore subject, it’s clear Arte didn’t snitch. Arte assures her she didn’t come to take what she likes away from her. Hell, she can relate to how Katarina feels, since her own mother burned her drawings.

Now that Katarina knows Arte is Good People, she’s willing to open her heart a bit when Arte joins her for dinner, when we’ll surely learn more about her “complicated past.” Until then, Arte’s basic decency, kindness, empathy, and determination—not to mention brute strength—contributed to coax Katarina into lowering her defenses. I came away from this episode liking both of them more!

Kekkai Sensen & Beyond – 12 (Fin)

Leo is stuck. Dr. Gamimozu has a constant chokehold on his future brother-in-law, a blade at the throad of Michella, and a constant eye on Leo himself, buzzing over his head. Leo is alone. Nobody knows Gamimozu even exists, nor can they perceive him. Leo does what Gamimozu orders, like dropping his phone into the hellmouth. He’s despairing in his helplessness.

Just then, out of nowhere, Sonic zips in, pokes Leo in the face, then scampers off at Sonic-speed…and Gamimozu’s drone didn’t even notice him. After playing a critical role in saving Mr. Riel, Sonic comes through again, showing Leo in one swift swoop that Gamimozu isn’t invincible, nor are his eyes as good as Leo’s.

Leo quietly, patiently tests the limits of Gamimozu’s perception, and takes advantage. Below the true name in text he sent to Klaus, he left a clue for Klaus—”10-33″—indicating Leo’s having a very specific kind of trouble: the kind the rest of Libra can’t perceive on their own.

Meanwhile, Leo has been led back to Michella’s hotel, but finds the gorgeous mountain vista where he always used to take Michella, even after he himself got tired of it. It’s another fork to Leo’s (all-seeing) eye that Gamimozu would defile such a nice memory, but Leo is no longer hopeless…he’s angry, and he thinks he can take Gami, or at least last long enough in hope his friends will arrive.

After being saved by Michella, using the momentum of her chair to launch herself at Gami, Leo takes hundreds of non-lethal strikes from Gami’s many sharp extremities, losing lots of blood. But being a tortoise knight, he’s just not able to go backwards.

Using his eyes to avoid getting hit in a vital place, he walks forward, into further danger and pain, to keep Gami focused on him and not his sister. He smashes Gami’s eye. Then Klaus & Co. arrive, and that’s all she wrote for Gami. Leo was able to hold out, and Michella and Toby are safe.

Michella and Toby stay by Leo’s bed during his slow recovery, but leave before he fully regains consciousness, and Klaus takes their place. He tells Leo about the time they first met and how Leo called himself a coward. But it’s clear from his actions since arriving in Hellsalem’s Lot, and even before, that a “coward” is the last thing Leo is.

Further, Leo shouldn’t even worry about his past failures, weaknesses, and despair, because those things formed the foundation of the man he is today: a reliable and indispensable member of the force that maintains balance in the most volatile, dangerous, exciting city in the world.

Leo will continue to grow stronger and more confident as he fights beside his Libra friend protecting the good citizens of Helsalem’s Lot, where the unbelievable happens everyday.

Kekkai Sensen & Beyond – 11

After Skypeing with William Macbeth, Leo calls his sister for the first time in a blue moon, and three words from her turn his world upside-down: “I’m getting married.” It’s so sudden, and yet he contacts her so infrequently it’s only natural he’d miss out on the details of her relationship leading up to her engagement.

Michella is also on her way to Hellsalem’s Lot, and arranges for Leo meet her and her new fiancee at their hotel. Leo is there, but he’s nervous. Is this new man going to supplant him as Michella’s knight? Much of Libra shows up to guard Leo, though perhaps they just want to sneak a look at some Watch sibling love?

Leo and Michella’s reunion is simple but moving. Leo’s introduction to her fiancee, Toby McLachlan, is also very straightforward, as is the inevitable twist that he’s not human. Or rather, his body has been possessed by something not human.

Maybe those other Libra folks showed up out of pure instinct, since the only person who can see the monster attached to Toby is Leo, with his All-Seeing Eyes of the Gods. But here’s the kicker: the monster, one Doctor Gamimozu, has an All-Seeing Eye of his own.

He assures Leo that Toby isn’t being harmed, and that Michella won’t be either. But still, it’s hard to trust a guy hiding from everyone else, and who seems to admire Riga El Menuhyut, the “ophthalmological engineer to the eminent” who gave Leo his eyes and took Michella’s sight.

The not-so-good doctor is surveying all of the Prostheses of the Gods, and I guess he figured the best way to look at the one with eyes observing human history’s greatest event—Hellsalem’s Lot—was through Toby. Interestingly, Toby still has a degree of autonomy; he’s not a fake person, and his love for Michella seems genuine.

As amusingly demonstrated by Zapp telling Leo he needs to head off to his love shack, none of the Libra members sense any threat, so when an emergency call for a nasty mindless blood breed goes out, they mobilize to relieve the cops, and Leo’s services are needed as well.

Steven, Zapp, and Zed are able to incapacitate the breed, but they and Klaus need the creature’s true name in order to seal it. That’s where Leo comes in, though with Gamimozu watching his every move via mini-drone, Leo isn’t happy about revealing what he does to the doctor, nor does he appreciate the patronizing praise.

But Gamimozu isn’t just here to observe at a distance. He wants to possess Leo, the consequences of which I don’t even want to ponder. In a nicely-placed flashback to young Leo and Michella drawing in her room, Michella tells basically the same tale unfolding in the present. But when Leo asks her how the “warriors” will deal with the hidden “ghosts”, Michella replies “I don’t know. How should he?”

The odds are certainly against Leo, what with Gamimozu’s ability to see as much as Leo can, his being totally hidden from the other Libra members, possessing far superior strength to Leo, and oh yeah, the fact both Toby and Michella are one stray blade away from losing their heads. “How should he”, indeed.

Sousei no Onmyouji – 14

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After last week’s big battle and catharsis, we were due for a break at the show’s midpoint. SnO tries to make the recapping medicine go down easier by surrounding it with Tanabata festivities, but they only comprise about half of the episode, making this a half-recap requiring lots of fast-forwarding.

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The Tanabata content also rehashes Rokuro’s triangle with Benio and Mayura, but there just hasn’t been enough of Mayura for me to harbor any hope whatsoever that Mayura will have any success in that arena, despite the wish on the back of her tanzaku.

As for “Ohagi-Man”, the bit is funny at first (especially Rokuro’s running commentary), but grows repetitive fast. Checking in on the various adults guiding Rokuro and Benio doesn’t really result in any new insights; they’re just here to recap what’s happened.

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The episode ends on a nice note, with both Rokuro and Benio, having procrastinated what to wish for all night, gaze up at Altair and Vega, and both privately wish for the same thing: to become stronger with one another.

It seems they will certainly have to become stronger, with many foes and battles looming on the horizon. But whether they’ll ever become a true couple capable of producing a child—the Miko—is not addressed here.

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