Dororo – 13 – Face/Off

Since leaving Daigo’s lands Hyakkimaru has barely slept, as he seeks out any and all demons to kill until all of his parts have been returned, and Dororo is worried about him. He suggests they head to a hot spring for some rest and recovery, but has to lie about there being a monster there to get Hyakkimaru to go along.

Turns out Dororo’s only half-wrong: there is a monster in these parts, but it can be found under a waterfall. A great stone statue possessed by a demon cleanly cleaves the faces off victims. A woman with long black hair is delivering these fools to be de-faced, and she in turn can look and sound like anyone.

When Dororo encounters the statue while collecting firewood, the woman appears as his mama, and the resemblance and sound of her voice are so familiar he can’t help but want to call her Mama, which she allows (her real name is Okaka).

As Hyakkimaru dozes, Okaka tells Dororo the story of the statue, a giant Fudo that was to be a scorned carver’s masterpiece and thumb in the eye of his detractors. But he never completed the face, working himself to death but never satisfied with the results.

As Dororo starts to nod off, Okaka reveals that she drugged the both of them, and that she is in fact the carver, revived by a demon to complete the Fudo’s face. And Okaka thinks she’s finally found the perfect face in Hyakkimaru’s.

When Dororo comes to, he’s just in time to slow Okaka down before she can place Hyakkimaru in the path of the Fudo’s giant sword; that buys enough time for Hyakkimaru to wake up, cut himself free, and start hacking at the Fudo, much to Okaka’s chagrin.

Dororo, whose guileless kindness has clearly had an effect on Okaka to this point, manages to convince the carver of the madness she has wrought. Okaka doesn’t know how her obsession with artistic perfection has turned him into a murderer.

The demon within the Fudo isn’t so contrite, however, and it slashes Okaka nearly in half with its sword. Hyakkimaru finishes it off, and the demon disperses, but before Okaka dies and turns to ash, she asks if she can feel Dororo’s smiling face—like the kind face of the Buddha statues she once carved.

Dororo apologizes to Hyakkimaru for getting tricked by his mama’s face, but Hyakkimaru tells him out loud that he’s fine, and that they should proceed to the hot spring to rest. Once they get there, they find Biwamaru is already there (and he believes they were fated to keep meeting like this).

They also encounter a father and two rugrats who jump into the spring and splash about, disturbing the tranquility. But they also notice something on the annoyed Dororo’s back: an elaborate red tattoo that looks like some kind of map. That just may indicate where they should head next, as they’re currently lacking a set destination.

Dororo returns with a new OP (not as good as the first but still nice), ED (wonderful vocals with somewhat muddled visuals, though that’s probably the point), and demon-of-the-week. We also learn Hyakkimaru’s mom is still alive (though not in good shape) and that Daigo believes his deal with the demons is still in effect, but who knows for how long.

Advertisements

Aquarion Evol – 23

As Shrade, Amata and Zessica traverse dimensions, Fudo briefs the rest of Neo-Deava on the Book of Twin Stars, starting with Celiane and Apollonius, then Silvie and Apollo, Apollon’s winged dog reincarnated; and finally Mikono and Amata/Kagura. Like Vega and Altair, the two were once whole, but split apart by the latest incarnation of Toma, Apollonius’s betrothed, who is now Mikage. Shrade sacrifices himself to get Amata and Zessica into Altair, but they’re separated and Mikage takes possession of Zessica’s body. She meets up with Kagura and Mikono, and urges Kagura to summon Solar Aquarion to oppose Izumo.

Whoa, major exposition dump this week; and not quite done the way we would do it. See, we’ve never been fans of the abstract and somewhat silly ways past information is presented on this series, and unfortunately there’s a lot of that this week. The elements standing on a big book with trippy patterns in the background; images lifting off the pages like a pop-up book; and floating video screens helpfully illustrating Fudo and Crea’s tale (who, pray, was filming these events 12-24 millienia ago??). Like we said, it all looks a bit silly. Frankly, we would have preferred if the story were told as a flashback episode in and of itself. This felt like a recap, even though it revealed lots of information we either didn’t know or weren’t sure about. And recaps are boring. But at least it’s out of the way now.

All that exposition, while necessary, kind of ground proceedings to a halt. As Cayenne said, they didn’t have time to sit around listening to a story, but Fudo didn’t listen. We just wish there was a more serious, less goofy way of supplying this information. For that matter, Shrade’s death was kind of…meh. Between turning the blood stains on his shirt into musical scales and his overwrought “final melody”, it was all a little silly and hard to take seriously, unlike Jin’s death. Meanwhile, as expected, Mikage has made his move on Zessica, which means he now has physical form. From unrequited love victim to unrequited angel vessel…you can’t say she’s not moving up in the world(s)!


Rating: 3

Aquarion Evol – 21

Forced to return without Mix, everyone awaits Mikono and Fudo’s return. Fudo tells Mikono the legend of Genesis, in which the angel Apollonius shed his wings and joined the humans after falling in love with Celiane. The time has come for the legend to repeat. A disturbing dream leads Amata to sortie without authorization. Both he and Kagura are drawn to the city where Amata first met Mikono, now a deserted ruin, decaying and overrun with vines. Zessica and Cayenne are sent to retrieve Amata, but a powerful mecha attacks them. Zessica is trapped under stones, and kisses Amata so he’ll fly away to safety. Shrade and Sazanka union with Cayenne to battle the mecha, but Kagura and Amata meet and learn they are – and always have been – the same person.

We should have known; the reason Amata is so kind and shy and the reason why Kagura is so forward and aggressive: they’re two sides of the same coin. Amata is Kagura and vice versa. It seems they’re meant to coalesce into a single entity, “Amagura.” This also rather neatly explains why Mikono feels such a close attachment to both of them: she’s the Big Connector, and she’s to be the Celiane to their Apollonius in what is the latest version of the Legend of Genesis, which created the world. Amagura and Mikono will create a new world, which probably means bye-bye old world.

Speaking of farewells, it’s not clear at all whether Mixy will ever be able to become Mix again, Shrade is probably not going to last much longer considering he can’t help but union yet again, and Zessica says goodbye to Amata in a pretty contrived and random sequence of unfortunate events. Her element power allows her to break up rocks, but for some reason she can’t break the ones on top of her. We liked how she made Amata leave her behind by kissing him, thus involuntarily activating his flying powers. But we don’t believe she’s dead. Not yet, anyway. Mikage had plans for her, after all.


Rating: 3.5

Aquarion Evol – 19

Zessica skulks in her dorm when Mikage apparates from the shards of a broken mirror. He plants a kiss on her forehead that leaves a glowing sigil. When a dimension gate opens above the academy, Crea heeds a cryptic message from Fudo and orders the Aquarions to go through and rescue Mix. Amata, Andy, Zessica, Yunoha and Shrade arrive in Altair, and find it a depressing, run-down place devoid of women. Using schematics from Jin’s imager, they locate the central command, and are met by resistance. Andy takes a young pilot hostage, but when he realizes Andy can’t kill him, he trips an alarm and he’s arrested. Amata escapes and finds his mother in stasis. The pilot removes a helmet, revealing Mix’s braid.

We knew it wouldn’t be long before some kind of rescue mission for Mix was mounted, and so here we are. We have an interesting and diverse group, since Mikono is off to go find Fudo. Shrade knocks out Cayene and takes his place on the team, so that he can experience the melodies of Altair for himself. Yunoha goes to see Jin’s home. Amata goes because he can fly. Andy goes because no one’s going to stop him, plus his hole-making abilities prove quite useful. Zessica comes too (more on her in a bit). We like how all of their element powers are put to good use, and not merely supplementing Aquarion, but in personal combat. They do this so rarely, sometimes we forget just how powerful these kids are, especially after their training sessions.

We also get to see Altair from the eyes of our heroes for the first time, and well, the place is a depressing dump, with the melody of “a wailing old woman”, according to Shrade. More telling, both Yunoha and Zessica immediately start not feeling so good, which is probably why there are no women on Altair. Even stranger is when the young, androgynous pilot Andy takes hostage shows her braid, revealing she’s Mix…but we saw her chest and her boobs are gone. What the hell happened to her? And let’s not forget the reason they were able to reach Altair at all – Mikage. He’s taken an interest in Zessica, which ironically bodes well for her stalled character. The prospect of her becoming another oneof his puppets is more interesting than if she had been taken by Izumo in the first place. Throw in Amata finding his mom, and this Altair rescue mission has opened up a whole new can of worms…or rather, donut ants.


Rating: 4

Aquarion Evol – 17

The elements are transported to a top secret location in a green, placid mountain valley, where they’re instructed to relax and await orders and mind a cargo of strange, seeded bananas. When Mix accidentally hits Andy with a volleyball, he takes the opportunity to confess but it comes out wrong. He sinks deep into the ground just as a dimensional gate opens, causing an instant blizzard and an icy Abductor emerges. Andy unearths a great spring of warm milk that connects the male and female elements and covers each others’ weaknesses, allowing them to defeat the Abductor and shed the Aquarion’s “peel”.

Beach, pool, or swimsuit episodes can often be irksome affairs when not done correctly, but fortunately Aquarion Evol avoided the typical pitfalls by getting the swimsuit part over with quickly and efficiently, then piling on the Aquarion Crazy. Apparently in this world, bananas, not apples, were the forbidden fruit the serpent offered Eve. Fudo had some awfully good arguments for why it’s a better choice. As for those milky geysers…was there an aquafer consisting of Ito-En Banana drink down there? That stuff is delicious.

Andy’s bungled confession to MIX (“I want to fill your hole!”) was priceless; he consistently gets some of the best lines of all his peers. Also, Zessica tells Mikono straight up “he’s all yours,” and while she won’t give up loving him, she’s at least moving on, or at least trying to. Hopefully this will mean her character can evolve beyond full-time Amata-piner; after all, she’s a pretty good fighter. Her new outfit is even more ridiculous than her last – she just isn’t capable of covering more than 45% of her boobs.


Rating: 3.5

Aquarion Evol – 14

Yunoha locks herself away in her room, invisible and in despair, during Jin’s funeral. Fudo sends Mikono to flush her out, and the class travels to Neo-Stanley for Jin’s interment. When he’s buried, Fudo orders Andy to dig holes for all everyone, for “Special Training of The Grave” Everyone except Mikono is buried alive with only a bamboo snorkel. Their thoughts of attachmend, wickedness, love, stubbornnes and hatred all become jumbled until Mikono uses her power of connection to bring everyone back. They emerge from cocoons of energy, reborn…even Kagura.

Well, now…that was a bizarre episode. No battles. No flirting. The skies over Neo-Deava are grey and dreary for the first time. Jin is dead. Kagura…isn’t. And as for everyone else save Mikono, well…Fudo wanted to teach a harsh lesson, and there was apparently no time to lose. As soon as Jin is buried, while the pain is still fresh in everyone’s minds, he has Andy dig graves. By himself. It seems to take the better part of the day. Everyone else just stands around. Like we said; Bizarre.

But that’s not the half of it. The ground in which everyone is buried seems to be reflecting all their thoughts into one another. Down there, six feet under, you’re mano-a-mano with yourself, and the minds wander. All kinds of inner philosophizing ensues. It may seem to be downright cruel and unusual training, but Fudo has a plan. Mikono refuses to be buried, and it’s a good thing, because she’s the one who ends up bringing them back from the edge of life with her element power. And just when you thought the training was over, boom, Kagura appears, good as new. This series is edging toward sadism vis-a-vis its characters!


Rating: 3.5