Mobile Suit Gundam: The Witch from Mercury – 20 – Who’s Allowed to Live?

As Norea watches the carnage unfold on earth, she gets even more worked up and filled with an unquenching thirst for vengeance. Guel and Kenanji head to the school for evidence of Shaddiq’s treachery, but Shaddiq already knows what he’s up to, and he and Grassley House intercept them. Finally, these two are facing off in mobile suits, but it’s no longer a school duel, nor a game.

Martin reports his progress to Secelia, but she and Rouji are more concerned with why Aerial is on Earth wreaking havoc. Martin, of course, has no idea. Earth House watches helplessly as what’s left of GUND-Arm’s reputation goes up in literal smoke. Lilique tells the others to shut the news feeds off and leave it to the president.

The Earth Housers are left wondering if they should just be good and go back to attending class, as Suletta is doing. That said, she’s not paying much attention, as she’s understandably preoccupied with just what the heck is going on with Miorine. Petra offers Suletta her notes as further thanks for saving Lauda. When Suletta asks if Petra is in love with him, she bristles, but doesn’t deny it (obviously).

When Cathedra, Dominicus, and Guel in his Darilbalde are barred from reaching the school by Shaddiq and his fellow Grassleyans, it doesn’t take long for Guel to play the only hand he has and accuse Shaddiq without evidence. But Shaddiq doesn’t care what Guel hurls his way if he doesn’t have hard evidence. That evidence is about to be moved, as Henao is overseeing Sarius’ relocation while Shaddiq buys time.

However, Kenanji and Dominicus manage to slip through and land within the school environment. That’s when the door to the holding area is unlocked and Norea heads out like a revenge-fueld missile. Elan tries to stop her, first from leaving their quarters and then from entering the cockpit of her Gundam, but fails on both accounts.

Norea won’t be denied. But while she has her singleminded mission to take as much away from the wretched Spacians as they took away from her, Nika is also suddenly free, and her look of determination indicates she’ll be making a beeline for Earth House.

I knew Norea would be one of the series’ most volatile wild cards, and she goes absolutely feral on the totally undefended Asticassia. She blasts and blows up buildings, vehicles, and people without any rhyme or reason. She simply wants to let it all burn. In the process, she ends up blowing up her fellow Earthians hangar.

Petra leads a stunned Suletta through the increasingly distressing amounts of wreckage and carnage, and each of them carry an injured classmate on their backs when Norea fires on their location and they’re both obscured by smoke, dust, and debris. Considering Petra’s quite blatant death flags earlier about making Lauda take her out to lunch and dinner, I didn’t feel good about her chances.

Meanwhile, Lauda listens in as Guel and Shaddiq battle both with words and souped-up mobile suits, and then the inevitable happens: Shaddiq lets slip that it was Guel who killed their father. Lauda had been a loyal and trusty younger brother to this point but that’s probably over now.

There’s no more damning sign that Things Will Never Be the Same as watching a Front security mobile suit crush what looks like Miorine’s greenhouse. And while the camera doesn’t linger on any crushed tomatoes, it doesn’t have to use symbolism; students are being crushed and killed.

At first, Felsi’s campus-calibrated mobile suit is the only thing standing between Norea’s rampage and utter destruction of the school, but then Secelia, Rouji, and Martin arrive at Earth House (that’s right, Secelia is running in this episode) and offers Chuchu (the only pilot around) her prototype mobile suit.

The suit still needs to be calibrated for Chuchu, so who should show up right on time to do just that but a contrite Nika, ready to help. Apologies and forgiveness are put on hold—everyone has work to do. That said, Chuchu tells Nika to tell her everything “from A to Z”, otherwise she won’t know what she’s forgiving her for.

As Shaddiq and Guel continue to duel in space, Shaddiq condemns Guel for getting Miorine’s hands dirty, and he and his Grassley comrades tell him a boy who grew up with a silver spoon knows nothing of the struggles they’ve faced, and the choice they’ve made as a group of orphans to break the “unjust peace” that’s been forged by taking the power from the Spacians.

Henao needs just five minutes to get Sarius safely to the rendezvous point with the Assembly League…but she doesn’t get it. Guel defeats both Sabina and Shaddiq, telling them if all they do is take, they’ll never gain anything, which I thought was a great line. While Guel technically wins the battle against Shaddiq, it comes at the cost of his mobile suit…and very possibly Lauda’s loyalty as well.

Elan sorties in Sophie’s suit to try to stop Norea one more time…and he actually succeeds, tenderly taking her suit’s hand into his and promising that he’ll stay by her side come what may. If she’s scared of dying, of the things in her sketchbook, he’ll help her find a way to live, because they’re both allowed to live.

Unfortunately, Elan stopped Norea far too late. The damage she did had been done, the people she killed aren’t coming back, and under such circumstances, the security forces are shooting to kill. Just as she tells Elan to tell her his real name later, her suit is shot through the core and she is obliterated in the explosion.

Norea isn’t the only major loss this week. Petra doesn’t survive either. She died having saved Suletta when she was a deer in the headlights after the attack, and in the process of trying to save the student on her back. May both Norea and Petra find the peace she couldn’t find in life.

In the aftermath, there are rows of dozens of dead Asticassia students. Chuchu slams her fist on her cockpit display, bitterly wishing she could have done more. But both she and Felsi definitely saved an even greater number from being added to Norea’s butcher’s bill.

That night, as security drones hover over the ruined school, the members of Earth House and Nika are reunited with Suletta. But before Nika can say anything to her, Suletta interrupts. Her hands are covered in cuts and bruises as she scratches and heaves and moves the mass of stone and metal rubble before her.

She simply asks that everyone help her. There are still students trapped under this debris, and some of them may not be beyond help. It’s only a glimmer of hope in an episode called “The End of Hope”, but it’s an important one. Suletta’s meager request galvanizes Earth House not to worry about what they did or couldn’t do, but focus on what they can in the here and now.

More importantly, no one is telling Suletta to do what she’s doing, and she’s doing what she feels she needs to do. It’s another first for her, and even if it wasn’t on her wish list, both that and more firsts like it will be essential in the days and weeks to come.


Mobile Suit Gundam: The Witch from Mercury – 19 – Cleaning the Stables

Miorine and Guel are headed to earth, unaware of just how dangerous a scorpion they have as an escort in Prospera, piloting Aerial. Miorine may be planning to bolster her presidential bonafides through direct talks with Earth, but Prospera has entirely different and far more selfish motives.

In one of the surprises of the whole show, Secelia has Martin give her a pedicure to put him in his place, but also offers him the advice he needed to hear: if he believes he sold out Nina to save Earth House, he needs to come clean to his house and seek forgiveness there.

Piel’s newest Elan is now with Shaddiq, telling him more people might support Miorine in the election if the Gundam they brought crushes the Earthians, but Shaddiq knows Miorine will do everything in her power to prevent that. Miorine isn’t fazed by the unarmed protestors, and alights from her limo to meet with Earth’s leaders face to face.

As Norea finally fills her sketchbook and breaks down from the grief of losing her sister and best friend Sophie and admits she’s afraid to die, Miorine receives the Earthians’ list of very legitimate grievances, including the Benerit group’s use of extralegal detentions, torture, and murder in their search for the Plant Quetta terrorists.

That said, Miorine brings GUND-Arm medical tech to the talks, and this intrigues one of Earth’s representatives to the point he agrees to a 10-day ceasefire until the election is over. If Miorine wins, then the real talks can begin. Seeing them shake hands after her hand was previously ignored feels like a big win for Mio. Turns out it’s the only win she’ll get, and an all too brief one.

Suletta, having hit rock bottom last week, finally begins her slow ascent. Emerging from her bedroom to eat, ChuChu drags her out to be with the rest of Earth House, who have prepared a sumptuous breakfast. It’s here where Suletta realizes she still has a family that cares about her.

Martin then arrives and comes clean as Secelia advised, and receives the forgiveness he wanted but didn’t think he’d get. Suletta knows Nika wasn’t trying to cause any harm but only protect her own family. As Lilique puts it, even if it wasn’t the best way, it was all she could do. Suletta lingers on that.

While Mio handles the talks, Guel went with Kenanji to speak to Sedo, the Dawn of Fold-affiliated kid who he knew from when Guel was their captive. Sedo wants to join Grassley House’s academy for war orphans like the “Prince”. Kenanji gets angered by this, because “Prince” is the name of one of Grassley’s finest graduates: Shaddiq.

It doesn’t take much to put two and two together and realize that Shaddiq, in concert with Fold, organized both the Plant Quetta and Open Campus attacks. Guel informs Mio, who tells him to return to Space and try to find evidence. She imagines Shaddiq is keeping his adoptive father Sarius at Grassley house.

But even Shaddiq’s plans seem to be in peril due to the whims of one Prospera Mercury, who uses Aerial’s abilities to take control of a piece of Earth artillery and have it fire at her, giving her the justification to retreat. But instead she heads to a secret Space Assembly League facility—Ochs Earth—and lays waste to the Gundams stored there.

While fighting breaks out, it’s covered on the news waves. Feng and her companion, who pose as smugglers but are really Space Assembly League agents, secure Bel and even learn about Quiet Zero from her, but while trying to move her to a secure location Prospera’s aide kills Feng and Bel just narrowly manages to escape with Feng’s partner.

The end result of Prospera going her own way is that conflict between Earth and Space flares back up and escalates. Blood is spilled mere moments after Mio got her ceasefire, leaving her entire trip a failure and making her the face of the entire fiasco.

But when Suletta watches the newsfeed and sees Aerial among the burning rubble and crying children of Quinharbor, she finally understands why Eri pushed her away, and told her to stop clinging to her and their mother. Eri kept Suletta out of this mess so she could rise to fight another day. There’s even another Gundam looking for a pilot that I’d say has Suletta’s name on it.

If last week Suletta hit rock bottom, this week Mio-Mio seems to be in the same spot. Both her designs on forging a peace with Earth and her presidential prospects are in tatters. She, like Eri, was right to try keep Suletta out of this, even if her methods were extreme. But now that just means that Suletta has the freedom to choose what to do with herself. I imagine she’ll forgive Mio and try to save her. Suletta’s rise towards agency and selfhood begins now.

Loving Yamada at Lv999 – 06 – A Weird Dance

This week dives deeper into Runa’s whole deal. Because she was raised and doted upon like a princess by her parents and brother, she comes off as haughty and hard to approach at school, even if she’s looking for connections. She also dislikes unfamiliar things and people, which is why Akane joining their guild was such a shock.

That said, as someone a little more grown up than her middle school classmates, Runa has come to like hanging out with the older Akane, essentially regarding her as the big sister she never had. When she sees her classmates doing a funny dance they found online, she can’t join them, but she is comfortable dancing with Akane.

Momo isn’t quite sure about the appeal of hanging out with a “runaway” middle schooler, and when Runa tries to give her attitude, she swats her right down with a frightening aura that will brook no insolence. When Akane suggests a super-bored Momo watch her play FOS, Akane’s laptop suddenly shuts down and starts smoking.

When Eita informs Yamada of the situation, he allows Runa to take him to Akanes to take a look at the laptop (he offers no promises of successfully fixing it). Akane is delighted he’s come, but knows from Eita that he’s generally awkward around women, so she does her best not to come on too strong while still being a welcoming host and friend.

When Runa snaps a cute picture of Akane and Yamada together and sends it to her brother, Eita suggests Runa do something to help them close the distance. Unfortunately, all Runa has are the most cliched anime scenarios: lucky perv, toast-in-mouth collision, walking-in-on-the-bath.

When it’s clear no one is bathing and Akane eats the toast shoved in her mouth, Runa resorts to shoving Akane into Yamada a bit too hard. When Akane gets up to scold Runa, her hair flies everywhere—including into Yamada’s eye. Akane gets up really close to Yamada and pushes his hair back to inspect his eye.

In doing so, Akane is following her usual code of being helpful and caring, while forgetting not to do anything to make Yamada uncomfortable. He excuses himself to return to his house to get some tools, but both Akane and Runa thought it felt like he was escaping the situation.

Just like hanging out with Runa means dealing with her princess act and being able to see through her sourpuss, pursuing any kind of relationship with Yamada means always being cognizant that he just isn’t super comfortable around girls. At the same time, he clearly cares for Akane, but just doesn’t have the experience interacting with women who aren’t Runa.

If he and Akane are to progress as friends or something more, it will take time and caution—like hunting for the hundreds of VIT or INT shards needed to synthesize a single gem.

Loving Yamada at Lv999 – 05 – Let Me In

Sasaki Runa starts out this episode as pure scum, standing up Akane so she can have her tutor Yamada all to herself. Yamada is aware of the scheduling conflict, and even gives the little brat a chance to redeem herself, but she insists she’s not standing Akane up; she merely had someone go in her place.

That “someone” happens to be one of Rurihime (i.e. Eita’s) online superfans, who is obsessed with Rurihime and assumes Akane is Rurihime. At no point whatsoever does this creep bother to listen to what Akane is saying to him. When she flees to the ladies’ room, he follows her in and tries to open the door to her stall. Like what the actual fuck?!

When Yamada tells Eita that Runa used his Rurihime account to prank Akane—and put her in potentially legitimate danger—Eita is not happy with his little sister. Eita texts Kamota saying Akane has been kidnapped—maybe a bit too far—so he can give him, Yamada, and Runa a ride to the meeting spot, where Akane is just barely tolerating the creep’s continued presence.

Akane is wearing a bandage on her shin from knocking against the toilet when the creep barged in on her.  When she spots Runa, Runa runs away, and when Akane gets up to chase her she hurts her leg again. But instead of continuing to run, to her credit, Runa turns back and runs towards Akane, getting down on her knees to ensure she’s okay.

Akane has all the guys fuck off so the two of them can have some space and time. And Runa does admit to ditching her and apologizes for being so shitty. Akane can tell she’s super protective of her friends, but makes clear she isn’t trying to take them away. She simply wants to become part of their circle, if Runa will have her.

Later, when having coffee with Yamada, Akane tells him she may stink at romance, but she’s pretty good at making friends with other girls, even tough nuts like Runa. Akane’s capacity for patience, empathy and forgiveness was on full display this week, thus endearing her to me further. If Yamada were to eventually get a damn clue, he’d be lucky to have someone as caring as her as a girlfriend.

The Devil is a Part Timer!! – S2 E08 – Boars, Stars, and Bears

While the apartment is now repaired (and the kitchen faucet no longer drips!), the MgRonald remodeling isn’t done yet, so Maou needs some new temp work. That notorious NEET Urushihara brings this up is indeed the height of hypocrisy, but he’s not wrong.

When Chiho’s great aunt is injured by a boar at the Sasaki family farm in Nagano, all the young temp workers quit out of fear of attacks. Chiho’s mom drives her, Maou, Ashiya and Urushihara to the farm to help out with the harvest. Maou is happy see sides of Chiho he hasn’t seen before.

Maou & Co are overwhelmed by the sheet vastness of both the Sasaki farmlands and their spacious house (you can’t even see the stairs from the entrance!), but Chiho’s aunt Hinako eases them in with some lighter work, after which her uncle takes them to a hot spring to unwind. There, Chiho suddenly feels something clutch her leg; it’s Alas Ramus!

Turns out Emi and Suzuno tagged along, and it’s clearly not a simple coincidence. That said, when Alas calls Emi and Maou “Mama” and “Papa”, Emi and Suzuno have to spin quite the yarn about long-term babysitting and Alas forgetting her parents’ faces (which is obviously a real thing that happens in families where the parents have to work a ton of hours).

That night, Maou gets his wish to see another side of Chi-chan as she visits him in the night dressed more casually than he’s used to (though he seemingly forgets he saw her in a bikini during the beach arc). They go on a walk, her marvels at how many stars are in the sky.

Chiho tells him about Emi’s mixed feelings about him, Ashiya, and Urushihara doing farm work, since the Demon Army destroyed her hometown and family’s farmland. Chiho reiterates her desire for everyone she loves to live in happiness.

Maou doesn’t get much sleep, as Emi gets the three lads up at 4:30 AM sharp (though Urushihara clings to his futon and gets Emi’s fist in return). Everyone else is already up and eating a hearty breakfast prepared with help from Suzuno.

Because of Emi’s experience harvesting eggplants and Maou’s lack of same, the two are paired up for a greenhouse, where Emi explains why vegetables have to be picked in the morning rather than the afternoon, and before they over-ripen.

Emi also tells him she’s still mad and not ready to forgive him for what he and his army did to her home, but if he were to start regretting his deeds, her anger and hatred might subside…if only “the length of a flea’s turd”, which is a hell of a withering turn of phrase!

After working all morning Maou and the lads get a siesta in, but Maou and Ashiya want to still be useful. They escort Chiho’s baby cousin Hitoshi to see her mom in the fields, since he’s being fussy. I love the little scene of Maou, Chiho, Ashiya, and the little ones getting along, and Hitoshi pulling Ashiya’s hair.

Unfortunately, the good vibes are suddenly extinguished by the arrival of a starving black bear that’s come down the mountain looking for food. The group gets down low and tries to quietly get away, but Hitoshi gets unsettled and starts to cry, alerting the bear to their presence…and that’s how the episode ends.

With a “civilian” among them in Aunt Hinako, dealing with the bear through supernatural means (like, say, Alas turning into a sword) is probably out. Still, I can’t imagine the bear will succeed in attacking anyone. More likely another Sasaki will arrive and scare the bear off.

Fruits Basket – 61 – The Cat Was Right

Totally Invincible

When Tooru leaves the hospital and first sees Kyou, whom she loves, nothing goes as planned. Even as her mind and heart want to go to him and smile, her body runs away as fast as it can…which is, of course, not nearly fast enough to lose the rather athletic Kyou! While Yuki visited, the mere mention of Kyou’s name brought tears to Tooru’s eyes that she quickly slapped away, risking further damage to her head.

Yes, Tooru isn’t running from Kyou because she’s afraid of him, but because of the usual: she’s afraid of being a burden; being unnecessary; causing people pain simply by being around them. She’s afraid of Kyou being disappointed in her. This is what happens when you say your piece and flee like Kyou did. It was a shit move, especially when he knew full well Tooru would take every one of those harsh words to heart.

So it’s as heartlifting to see Kyou get down on one knee and apologize and take back what he said as it was heartbreaking to hear him say those things in the first place to a desperately vulnerable Tooru who was ready to bear her heart but was met with a wall of stone. Kyou has learned a lot from being with Tooru, and one of those things he learned is being more aware of how his words and behavior affect people.

He knows how lucky he is to see Tooru again to apologize, and humbly asks for one more chance with her, because if he’s going to live, he wants to live with her by his side, because he loves her. Tooru responds by asking if it’s really okay for her to stay by his side, and hold his hand, and he points out she’s already holding it, gently places his hand on her face, and gives her her second kiss—the first being when he wasn’t sure he’d have this second chance.

When Kyou laments that being with him means suffering because of his “weird body” (let’s not forget, without that rosary he’s an odd, smelly beast), but Tooru simply tells him she loves him, that that love is “totally invincible”, and he starts thinking maybe he’s invincible too. They hug, both fully expecting him to transform. But he doesn’t, because the curse has been broken.

The Original Promise

It broke because Tooru was able to make a new connection with Akito, and show her that it was going to be okay even if it broke, and that it ultimately be better for everyone, including Akito, if it broke. We thankfully get to see a bit of Akito visiting Tooru in the hospital, where she confesses it all came down to her being jealous of Tooru and how goshdarn pure and pretty she is.

Rather than rightfully reply with a “guilty as charged”, Tooru is Tooru, saying she’s neither pure nor pretty, and if it isn’t too much trouble she’ll thank Akito not to sort people into categories based on “things like that” and use them to keep her distance. If Akito thinks Tooru is pure, then she believes Akito is pure too, and never more than she was when she approached in the rain.

As Tooru and Kyou hug without him transforming, Akito thinks about that visit, and how Tooru repeated her heartfelt desire to be her friend, and Akito’s willingness to be that, resulting in a new beginning, something she never thought possible all her life until meeting Tooru. She feels the hand of the original God on her head, and we’re sent back to time immemorial, and the genesis of the Curse, which was originally not a curse at all.

What it was originally was an effective coping mechanism for the crushing loneliness of the original God, living in his house on top of a mountain, too strange and different to interact with the humans below. The first being to ever visit him was the Cat, who promised to stay by his side and kept that promise.

The cat taught the God that perhaps others who were “different” would be willing to be his friends. He sent out invitations, and twelve other animals responded. The moon quietly watched over the banquets shared by those who were different—what a beautiful collection of words—but eventually the first of them, the Cat, became ill and neared death.

The God enchanted a sake cup that would make the bonds between him and the thirteen animals eternal; that even if they died, they’d be reborn and reunited. But the dying cat neither needed nor wanted eternity, which the other animals saw as a rejection and admonished the Cat.

But the cat was on to something, even back then, at the very first collection of the Zodiac. He beseeched God that they accept that things end, that mortality, while scary and lonely, is what makes life life, and makes love love. The Cat said to God he was fortunate to be with Him for even a moment, but after he died, the other animals ignored his calls for acceptance.

Still, they were still mortal, and one by one died, until only God was left, his house a ruin reminiscent of one of the deserted huts in the Boy’s village in To Your Eternity. Then God died, but was reborn with the others and the eternal banquet resumed. This original memory, which occurred so long ago, was forgotten by all…until it was told to us by the incomparable Iwami Manaka, whose voice moved me to tears on several occasions this week.

Cry With Me

But the promise endured, until present events now have Akito asking the original God if it’s okay for her to stop being special or a god, and just become Akito…to end the eternal, set down the extinguished torch, and begin her life.

As she asks this of her progenitor, the answer is revealed, as one by one the remaining Zodiac members are released from their eternal bonds. For many, like Kisa and Rin, it happens beside Hiro and Haru, respectively—those who already felt the pang of intense and all-encompassing sadness and loneliness that comes with the breaking of the curse. But Kisa has Hiro, Rin has Haru, Ayame has Mine, and Kyou has Tooru.

The coping mechanism is no longer needed. Both the animals and the god are now free to live among one another and with humans who love them and want to live with them. Free to make new beginnings and free to create new bonds. To commemorate this moment, Kyou rips the rosary off his arm and nothing happens. He’s now free to be Kyou, not the Cat, and free to love Tooru, who loves him more than she loves anyone else.

Thank You

All Akito asks as the curse is lifted is for everyone to “cry with her”, but they do more than that. Still sore from the breaking of their bonds, they are actually drawn to her—to Akito, not the God of the Zodiac—and when they do file in one by one, what had been a cold, foreboding, oppressive Souma compound is bathed in warm light.

As the original God states, it would be a long, long time before the cat’s words about eternity not being the answer and the preciousness of mortality became true. But they finally did. Akito may not be a god anymore, but she’s not alone. Tooru makes sure she knows that when she visits with Kyou and the others.

It’s telling that the first person for Akito to embrace post-the breaking of the curse isn’t a former Zodiac member, but the first and best friend of her new non-divine existence: Honda Tooru, who it turns out freed Akito as much as everyone else from bonds none of them ever asked for, and never needed. It is true we mortals must accept that things end, even if that thing is Fruits Basket. But I can’t think of a better or more satisfying ending than the one we’re getting.


Fruits Basket – 60 – Moving Toward that Someone

After starting with Shigure wishing he could be less of a meddling shitstain (fat chance), we thankfully shift to two of my very favorite Fruits Basket characters in Arisa and Saki. Upon visiting Tooru in the hospital they meet Akito for the first time, who claims responsibility for Tooru’s injuries. Saki, the true God of Fruits Basket, says Tooru doesn’t believe anyone is to blame.

Then there’s the matter of Kureno, whom Akito confesses to have stabbed , after emotionally tying him down and trampling on him for years. She’s at a loss about what to do, since neither Tooru nor Kureno will blame her for anything, and that’s when all the years of being raised as a boy are shattered by Saki, who causally, correctly identifies Akito as female. Then Arisa gives Akito a hug, because Akito needed one.

It doesn’t change the sting of Arisa now knowing that she’s been nothing more than a brief blip in Kureno’s life up to this point; that she’s been “polishing a single day’s memories like they were some diamond”, which, goddamn that’s some pretty writing right there. But here’s the thing…what if they were some diamond?

When Arisa visits Kureno in the hospital room, and he says he thought she wouldn’t come because he didn’t deserve her, nothing matters to Arisa anymore but the love she’s feeling. Whatever Kureno wants to do; wherever he needs to go to “leave the sight” of Akito as one final kindness, Arisa will be by his side without fail. She’s done not being a participant in his life. The diamond is nice, but she wants the mine, and she’ll have it, because she’s Uotani Fucking Arisa.

The screen is once more soiled by Shigure’s presence as he and Yuki encounter Haru at his house. Haru notes how Rin has been “impressively worried” about her BFF Tooru, but he’s likely there because he’s worried about Kyou, who hasn’t once visited Tooru in the hospital and is rarely seen leaving his room.

Yuki admits Kyou has “his own pain and his own reasons”, but he also doesn’t give a shit about them. He’s done being Mr. Nice Ratboy, and storms upstairs, where he’s even more incensed to find Kyou packing to leave before Tooru comes home. Kyou says listlessly that his being there would hurt her, that he can’t protect her, and that she’s better off with Yuki.

Yuki then kicks Kyou through the damn door, mocking him for thinking he has to be some kind of superhero plucking Tooru out of midair or save her from getting hit from a car. Of course he’s not that—he’s just a stupid cat—but he doesn’t need to be a superhero.

Kyou admits to Yuki that he always wanted to be him, which in turn causes Yuki to admit that he always wanted to be him. Of course, neither of these facts comes as a surprise to us, but Yuki and Kyou have been so mired in playing out their respective Zodiac roles they failed to notice how much they admired and envied one another.

But here’s the thing, Kyou can’t be Yuki and Yuki can’t be Kyou; Kyou has to be Kyou and Yuki has to be Yuki (though Shigure should probably stop being Shigure). From how Yuki’s seen it, Kyou has protected Tooru just fine by being Kyou; by simply loving her being the one she loves; by being the only one of the two of them to make her truly smile.

Yuki leaves a stunned Kyou with the words “Get your damn act together!”, and Kyou is moved, though not, at first, to the hospital. He has to take care of something first, namely standing up to his grotesque, loathsome creature of an audiophile father. As he heads to his dad’s place, we get a cute little scene of Hiro and Kisa discussing how Hiro breaking the curse hasn’t changed their affection for each other.

When Kyou quietly concedes that his mom’s death was his fault as his “dad” claims, said “dad” tells his maid to call the main house to have him dragged away to the Cat’s Cottage. Kyou, tasting the stew of hatred, fear, and grief he’s got going, refuses to go there. He’ll live outside, because there’s someone he wants to be with.

While listening to his ranting, Kyou comes to recall that his dad said horrible things to his mother, so while Kyou might still claim some responsibility for her depression, it’s much more likely his dad was the one who put her into a state where she decided to “throw herself away.” Well, Kyou won’t do the same thing. He’s going to live.

Akito gets the call, but tells the long-serving attendant to ignore it. She’s decided to free Kyou of his impending sentence, tear down the cottage, and quit this wretched place forthwith (hopefully to go stay with Shigure, as the two unassailably deserve each other). The attendant laments how unlike all these young people, poor old her can’t just start over in the outside world. Oh, cry me a fucking river, you deeply despicable woman. Akito certainly won’t…and good for her!

Kyou has adopted the philosophy of continuing to stand on your own two feet, accepting what you are, and moving toward something—or in his case, someone. After his pep talk with Kyou, Yuki is sulking in the dark when he gets a call from his someone, Machi. It doesn’t matter what she wants, he just wants—needs to see her. Tooru? More like Toor-who?!

Just as Arisa’s anxious racing thoughts of how insignificant she was in Kureno’s life melted away at the sight of him, the gears of Kyou’s feline brain are also spinning furiously with questions like Will she still accept me? Do I still love her? Why? How much? The answers are: Yes (eventually), Yes, Because, and A Lot.

Those questions are meaningless as soon as he spots her leaving the hospital and thos big brown eyes. But then, because this is not a show afraid to crack a joke even in a moment like this, Tooru gets spooked and gives Kyou a taste of his own running away medicine. Unfortunately for her, Kyou can run much faster than her, and quickly gives chase as Arisa and Saki look on approvingly.

Everywhere you look, love is in the air, and I am here for it. And let me reiterate: I’ve never read the source material, so I have no problem with the direction or pace of the adaptation. The way I see it, I’ve been invested in this anime for sixty episodes totalling twenty-five hours over three years, and so far this is the ending I both want and deserve. Keep it up, Furuba!


Tokyo Revengers – 09 – Let’s Do This Shit!

The tender sweetness of the summer festival gives way to the vicious smashing of fists and feet into faces this week, as Tokyo Revengers hosts its first all-out, full-on brawl between Toman and the remnants of Moebius.

Takemichi tries to get to Draken before Peh-yan or Kiyomasa can kill him, but Peh-yan finds Draken first. After telling Emma to keep her distance (thakfully nothing happens to her here), Draken is ambushed by the tried-and-true cowardly tactic of sneaking up from behind with a baseball bat.

But by the time Takemichi and Mitsuya find a bloodied Draken, he’s not only still conscious and standing, but has already amassed a pile of fallen Moebius wannabe badasses.

Peh-yan has somehow managed to muster a full one hundred members of Moebius against just Draken, Mitsuya, and Takemichi, but the distinctive exhaust sound of Mikey’s motorcycle heralds the coming of the cavalry. That’s when we meet Moebius’ new “temporary” commander, Hanma Shuuji.

Not only does Hanma come out of nowhere—Naoto never mentioned him to Takemichi in the present—he’s also able to successfully block Mikey’s kick, which is a dead giveaway that he’s not someone to be trifled with.

Fortunately, the 100-on-4 battle becomes much fairer when all the various divisions of Toman arrive en masse to back Mikey up. From there, things go full Gangs of New York, only in Tokyo, with a bunch of 13-to-15-year-olds.

Takemichi gingerly navigates the chaos of punches and kicks, trying to keep track of Draken and looking out for Kiyomasa, who stated his intention to murder Draken. He’s unsuccessful on both counts. By the time he spots Kiyomasa, the guy’s knife is already stained with blood.

By the time he finds Draken, he’s lying on the ground in a pool of his own blood. If Draken does indeed die, it will make Takemichi’s life—and his mission to save Hina and Akkun—much more difficult. I’m just surprised that expected big bad Kisaki Tetta still has yet to reveal himself.

Rating: 4/5 Stars

Fruits Basket – 59 – Useful Idiots

What does Tooru do when a soaked, filthy Akito approaches her with a knife, saying she stole everything from her? First, Tooru sees her mother standing behind Akito, echoing her words about being left behind and abandoned.

Instead of running away, Tooru runs towards Akito, who is startled and slashes her arm. But no amount of non-lethal dagger strikes or ghost moms will be enough to stop Tooru’s—and time’s—inexorable march forward.

Tooru admits to Akito that even as she rejected the eternity of the Zodiac curse, she wished for the same things: for unchanging feelings and eternal bonds, like she had for her mother. But then she fell in love with Kyou, and even if he doesn’t love her back (he does), she’s going on ahead without her mom. People and feelings can’t be bound down.

Tooru’s words (and complete lack of regard for her life) disarm Akito, literally and figuratively, but Akito’s anxiety remains. How can she live life with “strangers”, lacking promises or bonds or eternity? Tooru asks Akito to start over with her, here and now, and holds out her hand. Akito worries Tooru get sick of her if she cries, but Tooru keeps that hand of friendship out, and Akito is about to take it…when the earth below Tooru suddenly gives way.

The old Akito would have relished a scenario where Tooru was seriously injured and there was no one around; all she’d have to do is nothing. But even though she wasn’t quite able to take Tooru’s hand, Tooru still changed Akito in that moment. Instead of doing nothing, Akito screams her lungs out and runs for help, finding Shigure and Yuki, who calls an ambulance.

Yuki locates Tooru, who is still alive, and thanks to Akito calling for help immediately, she’s likely to stay that way. But for Kyou, who also heard Akito’s screams, that’s by no means a sure thing. In fact, it must feel like a second case of deja vu after the deaths of his mother and Kyouko for which he blames himself. Still, Tooru raises her hand to Kyou’s face and says “it’s all right now”, and then Kyou kisses her.

That night, Yuki is prepared to stay at the hospital all night, but Tooru’s gramps tells him to go home and go to school tomorrow, or Tooru will fret. He also asks where the “redhead” is. It’s clear Kyou doesn’t feel he deserves to visit Tooru considering his running away from her led to this.

But one person who is done running away from everything—from the inevitability of the future to the deeds she committed in the name of stopping that future—is Akito. She visits Kureno at the hospital, and he quickly forgives her. She’s waiting outside when Momiji arrives, and calls both Kureno and Tooru “idiots” for forgiving her no matter what she says or does

Momiji says that “idiots are useful”, since Akito isn’t guilty of her crimes thanks to the two of them being idiots. If they were less kind, soft-heared, loving people, they’d pressed charges at the very least and possibly hated her forever. But that’s not who Kureno and Tooru are.

Momiji tells Akito to treasure them from now on, and that’s just what she does, starting with visiting Tooru in her hospital room, where shes awake, sitting up, her arm outstretched in friendship. Akito blushes and smiles, happy beyond words that a wretch like her can still be forgiven and welcomed.

Those of you who have zero tolerance for an Akito redemption arc will likely be disappointed in where things went this week, but I for one am all for it. Akito may have dished out no shortage of cruelty and suffering upon the other Zodiac members, but if Tooru and Kureno are willing to forgive her, and she’s willing to step out of the shadows and move forward, then that’s all good with me!

As for how all of this seemingly went according to Shigure’s plan, well…that was one hell of a convoluted, risky plan! One wonders if his novels are similarly chaotic…

Tokyo Revengers – 08 – The Ecstacy and the Agony

It’s neither Takemitchy’s rage nor passion nor pathetic attempts to score a blow that shake Mikey and Draken out of their latest spat. Nope, it’s a big ol’ turd, which ends up nested in Takemichi’s hair when he goes flying into a pile of garbage. Mikey and Draken run off laughing, scared of the shit coming to get them, and his four friends follow suit. It’s a rare reminder that despite their pretensions otherwise, these are still a bunch of stupid kids.

Takemichi’s antics may have helped Mikey and Draken forget what they were fighting about, but since he’s the only real adult among them, Takemichi realizes what the problem was: Mikey wanted to free his friend Pah, while Draken wanted to respect Pah’s wishes to turn himself in; neither felt they could budge from their positions. Thank goodness for poop!

After washing his hair, Takemichi joins the made-up pair and his four friends. Hina shows up with Emma, who has come to ensure Hina properly asks Takemichi out to the summer festival on August 3rd. As Emma predicted, of course Takemichi says yes—Hina is his girlfriend after all—while she is bowled over that Draken and Mikey are on good terms again.

Takemichi, meanwhile, seeing everything coming up aces, celebrates having changed history by stopping the Mikey/Draken feud before it got too bad. Now Draken won’t be killed and Akkun and Hina will be saved, right? Before returning to the present where he’ll surely face a rude awakening, he decides to reward himself by going on a double date with Hina, Draken and Emma.

It’s really good to see the old Hina again, and to also learn that she and Emma have become friends owing to Emma being a genuinely pure and lovely person. Hina’s forgiven her friend for “going off the deep end” due to her intense love of Draken, and while she hasn’t quite yet forgiven Takemichi, she gives him a relatively easy out: shoot the special prize.

While the game is rigged, the fact Takemichi puts in such a serious effort is more than enough for Hina, which is why when it starts to pour and they get separated from the other couple, Hina not only forgives him, but wants him to hold her and is ready for him to kiss her. Alas, Takemichi is interrupted by a phone call from Yamagishi, saying Mikey’s rank-and-file aren’t satisfied with their reconciliation and are still going after Draken.

Cursing himself for letting young love drop his guard so completely, Takemichi runs into the rain in search of Draken, since this is August 3rd, the day he’s supposed to be murdered. What seems to have changed is who exactly will do it. Kiyomasa has joined forces with Moebius with the intent to kill Draken as revenge for shutting down his fight club.

Takemichi does an awful job staying hidden, and when Kiyomasa and the others start beating on him, he realizes that despite befriending Mikey and Draken, without them around he’s just as weak and pathetic as he’s always been. They tape him up and leave him in the dirt and cold rain, but fortunately Hina finds him well after the thugs have departed (had they used him as bait to ambush her, I might well have been done with this show).

Instead, Hina removes the tape from Takemichi’s mouth, and he laments that the best he could do wasn’t good enough, and he hasn’t been able to save anyone, and is nothing but a complete and utter failure. Hina responds by giving Takemichi her first kiss. She gives it to him because he’s special to her, and because it’s because he breaks down and cries for the sake of others that no one is cooler than him in her eyes.

It’s just the motivation Takemichi needs to buck up and get back to his mission, because she reminded him that no matter how pathetic he looks, failure is not an option. So he heads back out and runs into Mikey’s driver Mitsuya, who tells Takemichi that everyone agreed to put the Pah-chin thing behind them…except for Peh-yan, on whom the episode ends as he’s about to pull a knife on Draken…with Emma right beside him.

It’s a good thing Takemichi didn’t head back to the present thinking he’d fixed everything. He can’t rest on his poopy laurels—there’s a lot more to be done before victory can be declared.

Rating: 4/5 Stars

Fruits Basket – 58 – Forgiven for Existing

Kyou’s a real big jerk in this episode, not letting poor Tooru get a word in edgewise, and even then rejecting those words and running off, ignoring her feelings entirely. Then again, it was about time we heard Kyou’s full backstory, including how he met Kyouko quite by chance one day, as she noticed how his hair matched hers.

In this meeting of orange-haired Kyous, Kyou finally met someone who didn’t curse his existence; an intermittent surrogate mom of sorts, who treated him the way his real parents should have treated him, instead of blaming a mere child for everything wrong with their lives. For a boy thus psychologically tortured, Kyouko was a ray of light and hope—as was her daughter, whom Kyou only ever saw once, watching her from behind.

When Tooru went missing that day, Kyou made “a man’s promise” to Kyouko that he’d find and protect her. But while he searched all night and into the day, it was ultimately Yuki who found her and brought her home, all while wearing the blue cap he claimed from Kyou when the wind blew it his way.

Kyou was never going to accept a hat touched by someone he deemed his  mortal enemy and nemesis; a “bad guy” title he bestowed upon Yuki because a bad guy was needed. Kyouko urged him not to live his life that way, and even when Kyou pushed her aside, she assured him she’d hold him to his promise he made “another day.”

Lonely because he felt betrayed and ashamed because he couldn’t help, Kyou stopped seeing Kyouko, until one day by chance they were at the same crosswalk. When an out of control car careened towards her, he was ready to pull her towards him to save her, but if he did that, he’d transform, so he “let her die” to protect himself.

Despite hating himself so much, and wishing he could go away and disappear, he always saves himself in the end by running away. Even now, after all he and Tooru have been through, he can’t look at her face, so afraid he is that she loves the wretch who let her mother die. If that mother’s last words were what he thought they were: “I’ll never forgive you”, how could he ever forgive himself?

With his ray of light and hope extinguished, and wracked with the guilt of having done nothing to stop it, Kyou shut down. Shisho took him to the mountains and tried to get him to “keep living”. He began to refocus on Yuki as the bad guy who stole all of his hope, and Akito egged him on by promising to acknowledge him as an official member of the Zodiac and cease calling him a monster if he “defeated” Yuki by high school graduation.

This gave Yuki another reason to hate and compete with Yuki, so he followed him to Shigure’s house…only to come across the last person he expected to see: the late Kyouko’s daughter and treasure, Tooru.

Despite growing closer to Tooru since then, Kyou can’t forgive himself, and doesn’t want her to forgive him either. He’s the real bad guy, not Yuki, and he feels he doesn’t deserve hope, or love, or forgiveness. Finally given a chance to speak as the two are pelted by the rain, Tooru declares that if her mother really said she’d never forgive Kyou, then she’ll just have to “rebel against mom”.

She asks if there’s any way Kyou can accept that she loves him, and he in turns says he’s “disappointed in her”, even after saying he wouldn’t when nothing but a sheet separated them. Kyou then runs off, not letting her say anymore, and Yuki, who had been observing from a respectful distance, chases after him.

That leaves Tooru alone and vulnerable to attack from a dirty and clearly unhinged Akito, who approaches Tooru bearing a knife clearly intent on doing away with the one she’s deemed the bad guy. And while this is by far the most overt threat on Tooru’s life in all these fifty-eight weeks of Fruits Basket, something tells this non-reader that Tooru won’t be joining her mom quite yet…

Higurashi: When They Cry – Gou – 16 – Escaping the Doom

In the fifth and final loop before Rika calls it quits, Satoko wakes her up in bed as usual, but she has a heavy fever and hurts “all over”. Turns out she’s already dead right out of the gate—she just doesn’t know it yet. In this loop, Satoko is the neck-scratcher, and has already killed everyone else. The Oyashiro-sama in her head has told her the priestess-hood must pass from Rika to her.

What awful sin has caused Satoko to be compelled to disembowel a conscious Rika and hack away at her guts with a ceremonial staff? The simple reason that Rika wished and dreamed of leaving Hinamizawa, abandoning Oyashiro-sama and everyone she knows for a sophisticated life elsewhere. There is no greater sin for a priestess than to forsake their deity thus.

But before she dies, Rika expresses her sorrow and guilt and essentially begs for forgiveness, which Satoko is sure Oyashiro-sama will bestow upon her if she’s serious in her contriteness. The younger and older Rikas converse in an idealized Hinamizawa and wonder why their dreams ever strayed from the village. Then, as Satoko embraces her, hopeful that things will be better next time, Rika closes her pinky and snaps.

Satoko wakes Rika up as usual, only this time outside. Rika’s guts are where they belong, inside her body, and the whole gang is in their bathing suits for a day of summer fun in the river. It’s Higurashi’s version of a beach episode, portraying the Sonozaki twins in bikinis and the other girls in school swimsuits.

As the sun goes down, Rika talks to Satoko about a realization she hand about two very long, very different dreams she was having. One dream was painful while she was liviing in it, but looking back knows it was full of “shining wonders”. In her other dream, she never noticed those wonders, and was punished for clinging to an “ungrateful” dream (the one where she leaves town for a fancy school).

Rika concludes by saying she loves Hinamizawa, and everyone in it, and Satoko, almost serving as a proxy to Oyashiro-sama, embraces her once more, glad to have heard Rika speak such words. With Rika no longer dreaming of being anywhere else, her curse is seemingly lifted. No one gets the neck itch, nobody kills or dies, and everyone watches her perform the Watanagashi dance.

Then Rika spots Tomitake wandering into the woods and she stops him to say something about her and Takano, only for Takano to emerge from the trees. She wants to talk to Rika too. I wonder what about, and if and how this latest loop, so ideal and peaceful so far, will suddenly go sideways.

Attack on Titan – 64 – Parting Ways with False Honor

Back when Reiner was with Bertholdt and Annie on Paradis, a man they met prefaced his eventual suicide-by-hanging by telling them a story. The three wondered if the man did so seeking forgiveness—which Annie felt they had no right to give after losing Marcel—or merely wanted to be judged.

Now in the present day, face-to-face with Eren Yeager for the first time in four years, it’s Reiner who wants to be judged, and as someone who witnessed his crimes firsthand in Paradis—not the propaganda Marley peddles—Eren is uniquely suited to do so.

Still, as he urges Reiner to sit down and listen to Tybur’s speech with him, he also insists Falco stay put and listen, both to the speech and to his and Reiner’s concurrent chat. Meanwhile, Porco and Pieck are told to accompany an escort for an undisclosed matter.

Tybur really went all out with the theatrical production, as his speech begins with the story the entirety of the assembled crowd already knows: how the Eldians conquered the world a hundred years ago and then turned on their own people, and how Helos and the Tyburs fought together to free the world of the Eldian hegemony.

Porco and Pieck’s escort is a non-Eldian and doesn’t wish to speak with them en route, but Pieck runs into other non-Eldians who are members of the Panzer division, i.e. soldiers whose lives depend on the Cart Titan over all other groups and thus have a soft spot in their heart for her, even though she’s an Eldian.

Pieck can’t help but think she’s seen the anti-Eldian escort before—perhaps on Paradis?—but she and Porco are led into a house and fall down a trap door into a narrow well in which they cannot transform. Clearly someone wanted them out of the way…but who?

Willy’s speech takes a sudden turn when he reveals that the story of Helps and Tybur saving Marley was nothing but a lie crafted by the Eldian King Fritz, whose plan was to flee to Paradis with as many Titans as possible and stay there, neither attacking nor being attacked by any force. We learn the tripartite walls themselves are composed of countless Colossal Titans and built with the power of the Founding Titan.

Fritz intended to fully enforce the renouncement of war with those walls and never emerge from them. We learned that he inspired the generations that came after to follow suit. But then Eren came into possession of the Founding Titan, and Fritz’s dynasty fell (when Historia rose to power). Thus even though the King had saved Marley by allowing himself to be their most hated enemy, that King’s legacy can no longer be relied on.

The Founding Titan has the ability to convert the walls back into an army of Colossal Titans who would then go on to literally trample the world. If Eren didn’t know this before, he knows it now. As his leg regenerates Falco realizes he was duped into delivering mail to Eren’s allies—who I’m guessing trapped Porco and Pieck in the well.

As they listen to Tybur, Eren asks Reiner why the walls were breached and why his mom was eaten, and Reiner, nearly mad by now with grief, replies that it was because he fucked up. The others were willing to abort the mission when Marcel died, but Reiner wanted them to press on. He doesn’t want to be forgiven for what ended up happening, he wants to be judged and executed by Eren, one of his first victims.

But Eren isn’t here to judge Reiner, any more than he’s here to judge Falco, or Porco and Pieck, or Colt, Gabi, Zofia, or Udo. They were all just kids, after all, told just like he and his friends were told that The Other Side were evil demons, when in reality both sides were mostly just regular people. Those responsible for the atrocities in Marley and elsewhere were long gone, though they were still ruled by their descendants.

So no, Eren won’t blame or judge brainwashed kids past or present for the state of his family, people, or homeland. What he will do is put the blame squarely where it belongs: on Willy Tybur, who seems to successfully unite his diverse audience into joining forces to defeat the demons across the sea once and for all. But his big shining moment is stolen by Eren, who transforms into a Titan and bursts out of the building nearest the stage.

A new war has been declared, and it seems that Tybur specifically chose the Internment Zone as its first battlefield, luring leaders from all over the world there in order to witness the ensuing carnage the Titans can cause, perhaps hoping they’ll return and sway their people into joining his cause. In seeking judgment of Tybur, Eren may have played right into his hands…

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