Senryuu Shoujo – 05 – Wearing Stripes, Feeling Sparks

This week swaps one new girl out for another: the fortune-telling, purple stripe-loving Hanakai Tao, whom Nanako and Eiji learn about through Amane. When they go to have their compatibility assessed, she determines from their names that they’re the most incompatible couple imaginable. Only problem is, she used the wrong kanji for Eiji’s name. Still, Nanako is happy because Eiji is so quick to dismiss the unfavorable verdict. Turns out Tao also attends their school.

Her Tarot reading points towards a night of good luck for Nanako…and Eiji getting struck by lightning. Of course, one shouldn’t take the cards too literally. Nanako probably would have had a good time regardless of luck—just spending time with Eiji makes her happy—while the “lightning” that strikes Eiji is the shock of discovering the size of her bust after she removes an outer layer after their rollerskating. Nanako and Eiji enjoying each other’s company simply never gets old…especially in this half-episode format.

Golden Kamuy – 12 (Fin) – Tricked by a Fox While Betting on the Ponies

GK’s first season decides to go out with a bit of a whimper rather than a bang, though there was a bang in last week’s far livelier episode. Shiraishi blew up all of the explosives the group bought for Abashiri. Somehow, Ienaga survived the blast, and has something to tell Ushiyama and Shiraishi.

Now they need more explosives, but are low on cash. Asirpa and Kiroranke recommend hunting for furs in the forest. There, Asirpa learns the money she lent Shiraishi was spent at the racetrack, where he promptly lost it all. Then, at her relatives’ camp, they meet a fortune teller, Inkarmat.

Inkarmat is a shrewd woman and knows how to trick those who let themselves be tricked; Shiraishi is one of those people, but Asirpa isn’t. She’s committed to being a “new kind of Ainu woman”, though when Inkarmat speaks of her father, Asirpa perks up a bit.

Inkarmat knows who the mark is among the party, and so goes to the horse races with Shiraishi, uses her fox skull to correctly predict the winner a few times in a row, and gets her cut in the form of selling various trinkets to Shiraishi. By the time Asirpa shows up, he’s acting like a big shot.

Kiroranke, who has been around horses his whole life and helped care for them with during the war, could probably predict the winners better than Inkarmat…if the races were fair. He learns the trainers are up to all manner of dirty tricks, drugging the horse they want to win and getting the one Kiroranke thinks should win to drink too much water.

Kiroranke is in luck; the jockey meant to ride the losing horse took off, so he takes his place, is determined to win, and does win. Shiraishi loses everything, but one of the tickets was for Kiroranke’s horse—a parting gift from Inkarmat—that Asirpa no doubt uses to re-procure their explosives.

With that, Shiraishi continues to make himself useful by telling Sugimoto and Asirpa what a “cutie” (really Ienaga) told him: of a fellow in Yuubari who has taxidermied human corpses bearing tattoos they’re interested. Sugimoto takes stock of their situation: they have five skins, Tsurumi at least one.

Meanwhile, he’s still unaware of the third player in this hunt for the gold, Hijikata Toushirou, to whom Ogata offers his services as bodyguard. There was way too much story left to tell before all’s said and done, so this week was a bit of a punt; taking stock, and some light comedy involving Shiraishi, Kuroranke, and the horses. A second season is coming this Fall, which should provide ample time and space to complete the story.

Flying Witch – 04

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Makoto, Kei and Chinatsu attend the cherry blossom fair, eat many pleasant snacks, tour a haunted maze, and finally meet a strange-looking woman wearing a suspicious hooded full body coat reading fortunes by the road. The woman’s name is Inukai-san and it’s quickly revealed that Akane playfully changed her into a half-dog during the previous festival and Inukai is desperate to return to being fully human.

After a lengthy and roundabout introduction, Makoto agrees to help Inukai, but the magic is beyond her ability to undo. However, before everyone can get too upset, Akane shows up, explains that the whole mess is Inukai’s fault (due to being very drunk) and says the spell will wear off eventually. Everyone is sad but accepting, and Inukai flies off into the night.

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As always, this week’s Flying Witch was packed with lovely details and little exposition. In one example, Mokoto mixes an interesting potion without explaining what she’s doing or how it would work — and the transformation process, which fails, happens entirely off-camera.

The resulting humor is pure deadpan, but soft, and the world-building is natural. It’s even more interesting in contrast with the opening act, which focuses on the cherry blossom fair itself, and is packed with the characters telling us about the fair, its food, and what they like about it.

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Flying Witch continues to remind me of a travel show. The slow pace, pleasant suggestions about what I may like about its setting and people and why, just have that style.

Even without that unique style, it exudes pure charm and surprisingly witty dialog, often sneaked into the background: when we learn that Inukai is Kei’s type, only Makoto seems to notice, but neither she nor Kei are dominant in the frame, and her reaction isn’t given significant visual consideration. It’s subtle, natural, part of the flow. Awesome!

16rating_9

Michiko to Hatchin – 03

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Michiko consults with a fortune teller who gives several prophecies to both her and Hatchin, she also sells a “miracle stone” that Michiko gives an unconvinced Hatchin. When Hatchin steps in dog doo, Michiko steals her a new pair of shoes. Hatchin convinces a Chinese restaurateur to give her a chance. As Michiko asks around for Hiroshi, Hatchin works for free to prove she’s serious. She runs after a dine-and-dasher to his favela (going against the fortune teller’s warnings) and is then chased by his friend with a gun. Cornered, she stuns him with her stone. Michiko arrives to pick her up and scare the others off. They go to the shanty where Michiko believes Hiroshi lives, but when a woman answers the door, Michiko storms off with Hatchin in tow, insisting it wasn’t her dad after all.

After shooting down helicopters riding motorbikes through windows and Rube Goldberg-like police chases through town, this episode is a lot quieter (there are some gunshots, but they’re poorly aimed). Now in a relatively safe place where they don’t have to be in survival mode, Michiko sets about her mission to find her man. It’s charming how much faith she puts in the old lady compared to Hatchin’s naked skepticism, and we knew when she started spouting off vague prophesies in her trance, that the episode would unfold much as she said, only with results different than Michiko and Hatchin interpreted them. We also see that Hatchin is still not ready to lead a life of crime, refusing to wear her shiny new shoes until she’s paid for them with a part-time job.

Hatchin’s oppressor-of-the-week is Ramu, but it’s different that she’s there by choice. Being a little kid with no ID, Ramu’s about as kind to you as you’d expect someone in his position to be (he also has a daughter). We also liked Hatchin shearing her pom-poms, a gesture symbolizing that the old put-upon Hana is gone (even if that’s not really true, at least not yet). Her enthusiasm in her quasi-job (she’s never actually paid) and her failure to heed the warning about “climbing the mountain” almost got her killed, but she finally gives in to the superstition, and her miracle stone flies true. As for Hiroshi, we’re guessing that really wasn’t him – just a white guy who resembled the sketch – we’ll know for sure if Michiko continues her search.

9_superiorRating: 9 (Superior)

Stray Observations:

  • This is a show that keeps track of its days and locations, so we know it’s been nearly two weeks since Michiko escaped and not even a week since she and Hatchin teamed up, which explains why Hana and Michiko aren’t quite best buds yet.
  • Hana’s cat-and-mouse chase with the boy who stole lunch (and her shoes) was excellent, especially when the tables were turned and Hana became the mouse in the favela.
  • Where is Michiko getting all these outfits? Never mind, we won’t ask…
  • Like the previous episodes, the built-up, lived-in environs are exquisitely detailed. It’s clear Brazil itself (at least an animated version of it) will be a major character in this series.