Mahou Shoujo Ikusei Keikaku – 02

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This week we get to learn a bit more about the other magical girls and their various affiliations, the method by which Fav will determing which magical girls will be culled, and most importantly, the consequences of being one of those girls.

Calamity Mary is a loose cannon, in this for herself. Top Speed looks after Ripple, to whom trouble seems to always come. Ruler leads the largest alliance of girls, and won’t let anyone in her group drop out.

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While some of the girls’ abilities leave me wondering how they collect “Magical Candies” to determine who survives, with Snow White and La Pucelle there isn’t really any wonder. Koyuki is a good-deed-doing machine, and just being with her keeps Souta out of the points basement.

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Unfortunately, someone has to “go” every week for the next eight weeks, and this week is no exception. And while Nemurin’s “deeds” include saving the world and space multiple times, because she’s only doing it in people’s dreams, her candies are only dream candies.

She doesn’t seem to mind, since she’s having fun helping people in dreams. And in the real world, she’s getting ready to end her NEET status and move forward in her life, so if she’s the first to lose, it’s not that big a deal.

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Of course, things aren’t that simple. It was disquieting enough to see Nemurin’s avatar get rubbed out, followed by the curt message that she’s been “deleted.” It’s quite another matter when, after the stroke of midnight on her last night as a magical girl, Sanjou Nemu “says goodbye to everything”, and her mother finds her lying dead in her bead.

Now we know this isn’t just a competition to remain being a magical girl. These girls are fighting for their lives. Most, including Koyuki, aren’t aware of this yet. Fortunately for her, she’s at the top of the points. But that makes her a target; Ruler in particular sees her as an eyesore. We’ve got a tough, bloody, slightly frilly battle ahead of us.

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Hundred – 03

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Don’t get me wrong; I knew I was playing with fire by sticking with a show that was clearly billed as not only action sci-fi, but ecchi harem – not to mention watching this after Kabaneri. So if I had a bad time watching this very overtly tone-setting episode of Hundred, it’s my own fault.

The thing is, while this was often goofy and rambling and cliched and patently ridiculous, and I probably don’t need to watch anymore, rather than punch my screen I embraced the silliness for an episode, and mostly just had fun, as Zane did when I handed Recon in G to him. Maybe he’ll take this off my hands too?

I guess I’ll summarize the plot, such as it is: When a bigger Savage than expected shows up, Claire says no way to letting Hayato and Emile tag along, but a midget and a computer immediately convince her to let them tag along. Sortieing involves jumping out of a plane and activating their Hundreds, which made me think: what if for some reason your Hundred doesn’t turn on? I guess you’re dead.

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That aside, Claire, Liddy and Erica have no trouble with one of the small fry, but the larger Trenta-class Savage is too much, and the three are all taken out. I guess it was a good thing they brought two inexperienced rookies with them, or they’d be dead, right?

Hayato plucks Claire out of the air, and he and Emile have at the Trenta, but while Emile is protecting his would-be dueling partner Liddy, the Savage cuts open the front of his shirt, exposing her boobs. When Hayato sees the scar between them, it all comes back to him: this was the silver-haired girl he tried to save back in that flashback. Obviously.

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To defeat the Savage, Hayato suddenly transforms into Overdrive mode, donning full-body armor and almost going too far. He is saved from that by Emilia, who snaps him out of his berserk trance the way you usually snap people out of berserk trances: by french-kissing them.

With that, Hayato refocuses and cleaves the Savage in two with his mighty giant sword of many shapes and sizes. Thank goodness a man was here to save all these defenseless women who were brought down and nearly taken out so easily by a robotic beast thing whose design is so forgettable, I’d have forgotten they’d fought anything if I didn’t have screencaps of it.

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With that, Claire does her tsundere act with the pointing out that Emile has boobs and kissed Hayato and such, and everyone flies back to the Little Garden, safe and sound.

While in the air, Hayato notices a throng of Zwei Islanders holding up a huge sign that reads Thanks a lot with no punctuation, which I actually couldn’t stop laughing at because it read as sarcastic to me. I mean, he did blow up a lot of property in the battle, not to mention the side of a mountain. Those forest fires aren’t going to put themselves out.

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But more than that, the battle itself was very random and all over the place, as the foe took out the supposed veterans far too easily to ever take them seriously again, then the foe turned into a pushover when Hayato stepped in.

But the show was clearly worried I would still take it seriously after that battle with boob grabs and kisses, so the final scene puts the final nails in its coffin. Hayato and Emilia, you see, are “variants”, which is to say they have the Savage “virus” in them, but because they’re special they didn’t die, and instead are really good at killing Savages. It’s a lot like the half-Kabane Kanaberi, Ikoma and Mumei. Only far far worse.

There’s also the matter of how this show will continue to integrate french kissing in its milieu: the exchange of “non-activated” virus DNA with berserk virus DNA—i.e. the exchange of bodily fluids like saliva—are how Emilia is able to keep Hayato from losing himself. Sure, why not?

Just to cap things off, Claire barges into their room to make sure “Emile” has moved out, to find the two making out. Naturally, Hayato trips and falls onto Claire, grabbing her boobs and locking lips. Sigh. And with that, the spell is broken.

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Hundred – 02

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Due to RABUJOI’s informal commitment to keep the number of shows we review at a reasonable dozen or less, Hundred seemed like a no-brainer for a drop after an underwhelming opener. I’m still won’t go so far as to call its follow up good, but it was an improvement, and Hundred has the good fortune to air on Monday, classically a slow day for anime. …So here we are.

A big reason this episode was better than the last is that it actually has a good fight in the beginning…and at least the start of a second fight at the end, followed by the promise of our protagonist and his definitely not-a-boy roommate being pressed into action due to their abilities and the scarcity of slayers.

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Back to that first fight: it’s not earth-shatteringly awesome or anything, but it gets the job done (an article of praise one could use very often in Hundred). There’s a boob grab early on, Queen Claire makes Hayato pay, and intends to finish the duel quickly, but can’t.

Hayato’s better than she thought he’d be; he’s better than he thought he’d be, going into a kind of trance where his eyes turn to slits, he dons full-body armor, and backs the Invincible Queen into a corner.

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To its credit, Hundred doesn’t put the haughty chick in her place; instead, the duel is a tie, and by her own acknowledgement (she broke the rules she set for herself in order to win). As such, she recinds the expulsion orders we knew would be rescinded, but she’s not foot-stampingly angry about it.

In fact, she, like the rest of Little Garden, is impressed by Hayato, and takes an interest in him, to the chagrin of Emile, who, let’s not beat around the bush, IS A GIRL IN BOYS CLOTHES. She decides to use the fact Hayato still thinks she’s a guy to go on a date with him in the town center.

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The episode lags a bit here, but it becomes clear that Hayato is aware on some level that Emile is a girl, or at least s cute ano girly a boy that he can’t help but blush and be self-conscious about their interactions. Not that Emile is going to pull anything, but one reason I want to stick with Hundred is I want to see how her gender is finally revealed (even if that reveal turns out to be underwhelming).

Hayato becomes flanked on both sides when Karen invites herself out, after her tarot cards indicated he was with a woman. Boy or girl, Karen doesn’t quite trust Emile yet, and why should she? Emile really is concealing something pretty dang important to her roommate and colleague.

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Hayato, Karen and Emile’s lunch is interrupted by Claire and her entourage, but not out of any kind of malice: Claire wants to make Hayato a slayer as soon as possible. Indeed, she kinda has to, as there’s currently a slayer shortage (a welcome reminder this peaceful city-ship is the exception, not the rule, in this world).

Hayato’s duel with Claire, and Emile’s surprising impromptu duel with Claire’s veep Liddy, somewhat mitigate the fact we haven’t seen anyone in grave danger in the first two episodes (at least in the present day). Emile shows she can hold her own against Liddy, but an alert sortie ends it without a decision.

Instead, Charlotte shows up out of nowhere and tells Hayato and Emile they’ll be going with Claire to Warslarn HQ, where his trial-by-fire will continue. Frankly, I’d be worried about his inability to control or even remember his overdrive powers, but hey…they need slayers.

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Hundred – 01 (First Impressions)

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Hundred is the first Spring offering that left me pretty…meh. It’s another one of those shows that has trouble hiding all of the ways it’s derivative, simply calling to mind all of the shows it reminds me of without having anything unique to say, at least not yet.

The world of Hundred is apparently a dangerous one, but the only peril we’re shown is a very brief flashback in the cold open giving us the tiniest taste of the destructive power and dread-evoking qualities of the CGI “Savage.” Thanks to that, and the rest of the episode being so peaceful, the danger feels far away and in the past.

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Aside from Generic, Mildly-Kind MC Kisaragi Hayato’s bird’s-eye-view of his new home, the floating academy Little Garden, we don’t get much of a sense of the great ship’s grandeur, though I understand the need for it to be mobile (that itself is at least a hint that this world is a perilous one).

Kisaragi arrives not as a less-than-zero loser, but someone with the record-highest “Hundred Compatibility Score,” and thus already a minor celebrity among his fellow students. Two would-be groupies greet him with a banner, and another girl, Erica Candle, is also enthusiastic about meeting him.

The most notable encounter is with Emile Crossfode, who is a very friendly, very girly silver-haired boy, but someone whom from first glance I never once believed to be a boy. Something to do with the fact Emile looks just like the girl Hayato was with in the flashback. Note that I don’t consider myself a genius for making this connection.

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During a thoroughly pointless and interminable opening ceremony, Class President and “Queen” Claire Harvey (who of course sports blonde ringlets) expels three people, including Emile, for seemingly petty infractions.

Claire may seem a bit unfair and strict here, but this is a military school, and her job is to toughen these greenhorns into Savage-killing Slayers. Being late, speaking out of turn, and talking back is not acceptable behavior in the military.

She also shows a little flexibility (even after Emile disses her scores, which are lower than Hayato’s, by promising to reverse the expulsions if Hayato can defeat her in a duel. It saves face for her, and gives Hayato a chance to prove whether the gaudy numbers on paper mean anything.

Emile takes Hayato to the lab, where the top Hundred researcher Charlotte (who is, of course, a pint-sized, lollipop-sucking prodigy) gives him his Hundred (which is, of course, a katana). He and Emile then do a little sparring, and for a fleeting moment we see how this show could redeem itself with a little combat action. Maybe.

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After training, Hayato heads to the hospital to visit his little sister Karen, whose care will be paid for in exchange for Hayato’s services. Karen both wants him to kiss her on the lips to greet her and calls him a pervert for staring at the nurse’s ample bust. She was notably absent in Hayato’s flashback, with Emile in Karen’s place and me thinking (s)he was his little sister. Clearly Hayato doesn’t remember Emile.

Hayato walks in on Emile changing, it’s a good opportunity for him to learn Emile is not, in fact, a boy, but only posing as one, but…he doesn’t. Instead, the surprised Emile knocks him out. When he wakes up, she sows his badge back on, but cuts herself, and Hayato has the sudden compulsion to suck on Emile’s finger. Very vampire-like behavior, but he waves it off as being abundantly caring.

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The next day is the big duel with Queen Harvey. Unfortunately, we don’t get to see it, because Hundred preferred to dilly-dally around with other matters. I understand why it wanted to introduce Charlotte and Karen and give Hayato and Emile some time together, but I felt it a little problematic that this first episode is all setup and no climax.

Hundred isn’t embarrassingly bad or anything, just a bit underwhelming, and lacking distinctiveness. It’s not nearly as bold as My Hero Academia, as dark and edgy as Muv-Luv, or as lovably goofy and bonkers as, say, Chrome Shelled Regios. Everything’s very tame and neutral. I’m not optimistic.

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Shimoneta – 10

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Negotiations between SOX and Gathered Fabric go nowhere as Kajou condemns the group as a mere front for satisfying its members’ fetish for dirty underwear. The next morning, the rival group flexes its superior logistical muscles by sabotaging the monorail and hijacking 42 buses.

That sheer number confirms SOX is way out of its league from scale, logistics, and technical perspectives, considering how hard SOX has worked just to collect enough warm bodies to distribute porn in order to make a dent in society’s forced decency. It’s to the shorthanded SOX’s advantage then, that the hijackers on three of the buses are neutralized by non-SOX members.

An unintentionally badass Fuwa notices her hijacker’s gun is fake; a frustrated Anna hoping to win righteousness brownie points with Tanukichi beats the shit out of her hijacker; Goriki strips down to reveal he wears women’s lingerie, forcing the entire bus into a fit of nausea.

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That last incident is also the most revealing character-wise, as Goriki has gone from StuCo stooge to a complex individual in his own right whom, like Anna, might be in SOX were it not for his ultra-conservative conditioning. It also seems more and more like he has feelings for Tanukichi, though those feelings continue to be treated with sophomoric frivolity.

But at the end of the day, GF is still in the driver’s seat, with 39 buses under their control. Heck, they even have the Decency Squad HQ openly discussing what color underwear their female colleagues wear, and in some cases whether they wear any at all. Kajou arranges to bait White Peak, AKA Ichinose Takuma, into a trap where they can capture him and proceed with clearing up the differences between GF and SOX to a confused world.

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The trap works, but only to a point: Tanukichi is able to occupy Peak long enough for Kajou to arrive and spout some pretty good monologue about the value of one’s own scent, but in an episode where so many non-SOX members help SOX, it’s an acutal member that ends up screwing them over, and not in a particularly surprising or creative way.

That’s right, after being hardly in the episode (aside from a somewhat unnecessary scene in Tanukichi’s apartment where she’s called upon to procure bait), Kosuri shows her true colors as predicted, literally throwing Kajou under the bus and pledging herself to Ichinose and GF, having lost her faith in SOX’s lighter touch.

It was bad enough when Kosuri was introduced as a little-sister figure and redundant harem member; it’s verging on unacceptable that she could now be the one to bring SOX down from the inside. Still, my money’s still on the group that’s more often than not helped, intentionally or not, by the likes of Anna, Fuwa, and Goriki. The fight to salvage this show from the bane that is Kosuri continues.

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Shimoneta – 09

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SOX’s simultaneous offensive against both decency and Gathered Fabric continues as Ayame splits Sox up into two groups: one which will distribute dirty material around the school perimeter, and a second which will use Tanukichi’s dirty underwear to lure GF panty thieves whom they’ll then capture as a sign to the establishment that they do not condone GF’s activities.

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Kosuri, who is convinced she is far more valuable to SOX than Tanukichi feels shafted when she’s paired with Saotome for the first job, rather than Ayame for the second. When the panties end up luring Anna instead of GF, Kosuri considers it a failure for Tanukichi, but Ayame had planned all along for Anna to take the bait to get her off their backs. Even so, Kosuri rats out Saotome for drawing while they were supposed to be working, further demonstrating her Me-First attitude.

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When they try again with the same two teams, things go almost too smoothly for Tanukichi, as one GF member after another fall for the dirty underwear bait like clockwork. Then the lights go out and Tsukimigusa comes in the locker room, and Tanukichi, mistaking her for a GF, uses one of his father’s special moves, thus discovering “she” is really a “he.” Anna comes in too, and mistakes Tanukichi for the “false” Tanukichi she met before, but he’s able to distract her once more by shedding his boxers. I like how no matter what, Anna will not suspect Tanukichi of being a member of SOX; in her eyes, he can do not wrong.

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As for Kosuri, she reveals she was the one who sent all the GFs to the locker room for Tanukichi, and also knocked out the lights and turned on the sprinklers. She even collaborated with Fuwa. But all this initiative only gets her scolded by Ayame, to the point she starts to see SOX as no better than her father in that they’re not doing enough.

Then White Peak, the leader of GF (who seems more up Kosuri’s alley anyway), calls SOX out for a formal meeting. Looks like they’re not going away any time soon, and in the meantime, SOX has a self-involved loose cannon in Kosuri to contend with.

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Nisekoi – 08

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This episode was probably a bit of a slog for those not enamored with Tsugumi Seishirou. Fortunately, we like her just fine, and we also liked this very Seishirou-centric episode, in which odd changes in her body start to occur and she seeks answers and advice from her acquaintances. Her description of her “symptoms” are so precise and clinical, both Chitoge and Claude initially recommend she seek medical attention. Thankfully Seishirou doesn’t stop with those two, and eventually the common refrain of more normal people is that she’s suffering a bad case of love.

Seishirou may claim to not know anything about love, but we know that’s bullshit from the way she devotes herself to Chitoge and enjoys being by her side. She’s just never met a guy who has caused these reactions, and is totally at a loss for how to process them. Nothing Raku does to her deserves the harsh physical reprisals she visits upon him—on the contrary, he’s nothing but a decent, sweet and chivalrous fellow to her—but in the absence of any guidebook or roadmap or training in matters of love, she goes to her default assassin setting.

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Knowing her odd upbringing and years of conditioning meant to erase her femininity, suddenly becoming a slave to her heart is akin to being faced with an unknown enemy, so it’s logical and understandable for her to lash out, as offense is the best defense in her normal workings. The many closeups of her expressions as she wrestles with these strange emotions are enough to illustrate the intensity of her internal dilemma, as is her complete loss of concentration in assembling her gun at the mere mention of Raku by Claude. She’ll only be able to hide her compromised state from her mentor for so long; though Claude is a pretty dense fellow, even if he’s more suspicious than the other people around the fake couple.

But while Seishirou is growing into an interesting, if somewhat frustrating character in her own right, she also serves and important purpose in the central “fake” romance: she is the link to a past Chitoge has forgotten. Seishirou again betrays the fact she does indeed know at least something about love since she witnessed it betwen Chitoge and her first love, and waxes nostalgic about it, to the point Chitoge’s interest is sufficiently piqued that she digs up her old diary from the time and discovers that not only did she fall in love and make a promise to a kid with a distinctive scar, but that the diary also contained a key that looks very similar to Raku’s locket.

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Nisekoi – 07

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Nisekoi isn’t done introducing major characters. This week we met Tsugumi Seishirou, who transfers to Raku and Chitoge’s class and whom everyone assumes is a very pretty boy. Seishirou puts out a lot of different vibes to Raku: at first he’s weary of his gangster connections, then gets the feeling he’s a normal, friendly guy. Then Seishirou gets Raku to say he’d die for Chitoge, then pulls a gun on him – so he can do just that!

Even after learning Seishirou Claude’s top hitman from Chitoge, and that he’s been preparing his body and mind to protect Chitoge for ten years, Raku has no choice but to accept an duel. Seishirou opens up a massive arsenal on him, but Raku manages to evade the attacks long enough to fire his own ammunition: the knowledge that Chitoge isn’t the kind of girl who’d sit by and be protected by someone. He also gets Seishirou to follow him out a third-floor window into a pool. With Seishirou out cold, the battle is Raku’s, but he’s too considerate to leave his soaked opponent outside to catch a cold.

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That’s when he undresses him in a locker room and discovers that he’s a she, and they’re forced to hide in a locker standing very close to each other while Chitoge and their classmates search for them. In there, Seishirou admits defeat, and starts to cry about not being worthy of protecting Chitoge herself, despite abandoning being a girl for that end. Raku then flatters her by saying she’s cute, something she’s apparently never heard from anyone before. At that point, Chitoge discovers them, but the armor is cracked: Raku was nice to Seishirou, and she definitely seems to like getting complimented by him.

Seishirou’s seiyu Komatsu Mikako delivers a layered and diverse performance, showing Seishirou’s many moods, sides and mistaken genders with subtle changes in her voice. There’s also the fact that she knows about the promise Chitoge made to a boy (not her) ten years ago, but suspects she forgot about it, adding further credence to the theory Raku was that boy. In any case, Seishirou looks like a good addition to the cast, someone we can see competing against Raku for Chitoge’s attention, while also gradually falling for Raku himself, further complicating Nisekoi’s love polygon.

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Rating: 8 
(Great)