Eromanga-sensei – 10

The gang is still at the island “data gathering” retreat…but I’m not exactly sure why. Everything that needed to happen in such a setting between Masamune and Elf happened. Now the show switches gears to focus on Muramasa, without changing that setting, lending the episode a static, dilatory feel.

Masamune pulls an all-nighter on work specifically for Muramasa and not the little sister novel. Muramasa quickly scarfs down every page with giddy enthusiasm, but after Masamune catches up on some sleep, Yamada tries to get up close and personal with him.

Muramasa exacts punishment, while Chris takes Yamada away to work. But if he wants her to work, why not send her home to a more work-appropriate environment free of distractions?

Those distractions only compound with Masamune, Yamada and Muramasa in the same room, with Muramasa admitting her submission was a love letter to Masamune, she’s in love with Masamune, and isn’t wearing underwear because she’s in a kimono.

That last bit comes up when Masamune calls up Sagiri on Skype to play “The King’s Game”, and Sagiri is characteristically lewd in the orders to her “subjects.” Pretty inconsequential messing around…until Muramasa declares she won’t write novels anymore because her dream of having interesting work supplied to her by her kohai has been fulfilled.

Of course, precisely zero people buy Muramasa’s threat to quit writing, and indeed all it takes is a five-minute talk with Masamune—who relays to her his discover his spirit-lifting fan-letters were written by her—to convince her to keep writing after all, since it’s okay to have more than one dream to fulfill, and to keep working for them all.

One of those new dreams involves Masamune falling in love with her, which means for all of Yamada’s maneuvering, Muramasa remains a player in the game that is Masamune. But as usual, it’s getting increasingly harder to buy these girls’ intense love for a generic MC like Masamune.

Oh yeah: Fifth wheel guy is old enough to drink, so he gets cartoonishly drunk and slurs his words for, like, no reason whatsoever. Shrug…

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Eromanga-sensei – 09

I don’t know if I’m in the minority among Eromanga-sensei viewers, but I’m not the biggest fan of the Masamune-Sagiri relationship, which is rife with inevitably icky undertones, whether or not their love is purely familial or not. So when the show gets away from that relationship and focuses on the more standard unrelated boy-girl variety, I’m all eyes and ears.

We certainly get an eye-full in this week’sbeach episode, but it’s not just empty skin calories. I couldn’t be happier with the fact that we’re out of Masamune’s stuffy house and focused on Elf, whose plans are right there in the subtitle in the cold open.

Shidou and Muramasa also attend the “data collection trip” approved by Sagiri in various off-camera negotiations, but aside from Muramasa appearing in a far smaller swimsuit than she planned, Masamune and Elf have the beach to themselves.

Elf tries to take advantage, passing off legitimate activities lovers undertake on the beach—applying the lotion, playfully splashing, walking arm-in-arm—for role-playing and research. But whatever the context, the fact remains they’e doing these things alone, together, and enjoying it.

At least, Masamune tries to enjoy it, but finds it a bit awkward whenever Elf’s big bro and editor Chris appears. That awkwardness follows Masamune to the men’s bath where Chris joins him and asks him about Elf, including whether he’d marry her.

Masamune insists they’re not actually dating, despite Elf telling Chris so; but Chris manages to get Masamune to say an awful lot of complimentary things about Elf—which Elf herself can hear from the women’s bath.

Really, it doesn’t take much coaxing; Masamune exhibits some much-needed awareness of what he has in Elf, even taking exception to Chris saying his sister’s flaws can overshadow her charms; for Masamune, it’s the opposite, and believes Elf would make a good wife. His wife? Well…

Because Elf overheard everything, she visits Masamune’s room that night and takes him to the same firefly-bejeweled “elven forest” that inspired her novels, as well as the place where her dad proposed to her mom. We know immediately where this is headed: she tells Masamune that she considers him a candidate for marriage, which is a roundabout way of saying she likes him. She even tells him her true name: Emily.

This is Yamada Elf at her most vulnerable, earnest, and endearing. She’s come such a long way since her first appearance, where she was introduced as a generic arrogant loli pest. The little tidbits about her family and upbringing that come to light only serve to deepen my emotional investment in Emily and her happiness.

A-1 Pictures’s pretty character design, sutble animation, and seiyu Takahashi Minami are all working in concert to brine Emily to vivid life. And to his credit, Masamune doesn’t come right out and reject her the way he did Muramasa two eps back. He’d have been a fool if he had.

Emily realizes he might not be in love with her enough to propose marriage, but she’s going to work to make sure that he is one day. Considering all she’s managed to accomplish so far in life, I’m not betting against her, even if the show ends up going in a different direction at her expense.

Mobile Suit Gundam AGE – 04

Famous mobile suit ace pilot Woolf Ennacle wakes up from “healing sleep” and immediately claims Gundam as his own. Flit obviously objects, and they decide to settle it with a mock battle, which is interrupted by the UE. The suits that attack them are only the escort for a massive UE warship only detectable by eyeball. Woolf blows up a nearby asteroid to mask their escape, and the UE ship cloaks.

In all the years it’s been around think we’d see a little improvement in the tactics used in Gundam, but alas, some real bush-league shit went down this week. Grodek seemingly has only two mobile suits, but sends them both out, unarmed, to fight each other, then lets the crew simply watch them fight on TV instead of, you know, attending their duties. Did it ever occur to them the UE could jump on them at any minute? The answer is a clear ‘no’.

Add to that one of the pilots is an inexperienced kid with no military training, who only barely won his first battle with the UE, and for some reason decides to give away his position and charge a far superior force. The only people who look worse than Flit, Grodek, and the dawdling engineering crew are the UE themselves, who could have easily detsroyed Flit, Woolf, and the Diva…yet didn’t. At least Woolf seems to know what he’s doing, though he’s a pretty cliched arrogant ace, while I’m fully behind Emily’s concerns about Flit starting to talk and act like a soldier. Forget soldier, or savior…if Flit keeps this up, the only thing he’ll be is space dust.


Rating: 2.5  (dropped)

Mobile Suit Gundam AGE – 02

Nora’s structure has been compromised by the UE attack, and will be destroyed in six hours. Commander Bruzar orders the new battleship Diva to extract Nora’s core, where everyone has evacuated. His deputy Grodek captures the Diva’s Captain Dian at gunpoint – witnessed by Emily and Dique, who tag along – and takes command. Meanwhile, Flit escapes to space with Yurin, a girl he rescued from the streets. Vargas activates the AGE system, which fabricates a rifle Flit uses to take out a UE, but more are on the way and the clock is ticking on Nora…

Gundam tends to take its time with long, drawn out arcs with a single underlying objective: in this case, saving the people of Nora before its destruction. Naturally, there’s a clash of military command, and the hero, Flit, first meets Yurin, the girl who perhaps completes the triangle with him and Emily. Again, We’re a bit amazed this kid not only built Gundam, but the AGE system as well, but the show is adamant about it, so fine, whatever. He’s Einstein, Edison and Tesla all wrapped up and topped with green hair. We’re talking almost unapproachable/unrelatable genius here…they’ll have to eventually humanize him a little more.

Our main beef with this episode, which is otherwise quite exciting and action-packed (though not as exciting and action-packed as Last Exile’s debut) is another Gundam trope: The massive space colony that is utterly incapable of defending itself, or even evacuating its population in a timely fashion. This is just horrible planning. It clearly took years to build something as huge as Nora…during its construction, didn’t anyone ever ask, is it really such a good idea to pack thousands of innocent civilians into such a fragile metal tube in space? UE or no UE, it just seems shortsighted.


Rating: 3

Mobile Suit Gundam AGE – 01

Flint Asuno is a boy genius building a new mobile suit called Gundam, using plans his mother gave him before she died in an attack on their home colony fourteen years ago. That same enemy – known only as UE – launches a surprise attack on his new home, Nora, and the city’s defenses are inadequate. He launches in Gundam, and is able to defeat one of the UE mobile suits threatening him, his friend Emily, and her uncle Vargas, but the UE regroup and press their attack on the city.

Having seen 00, Seed, Seed Destiny, and Unicorn, we consider ourselves more than a little familiar with Gundam tropes, and this new Age series has yet to distinguish itself after its debut. It dutifully follows a lot of those tried(tired?)-and-true Gundam conventions: genius kid with a traumatic past, with a goal to save the world, and a space colony surprise attack. Haro hopping around. The UE aren’t very interesting as enemies yet; unless Flint cracks one open to reveal a dead pilot, they come off as mindless automatons killing and destroying indiscriminately.

Our favorite Gundam series of the ones we’ve seen is Seed, which was darker and grittier than the Gundams that followed. This looks like the cleanest, most sterile one yet. Flint and is sickly-cute friend Emily look more like elves than humans, and Vargas and their friend Dique are extremely stylized. However, this series does promise a multigenerational story, with Flint just the first of those generations. That may be the trump card that eventually sets Age apart from previous Gundams. But so far, it’s been-there, done-that.


Rating: 3