Planet With – 02 – Dearth of Enthusiasm

As the “Citizens’ Safety Center Special Defense Division: Grand Paladin” deals with the aftermath of losing one of their seven fighters to the enemy (which is called “Nebula”), Souya doesn’t so much as get real meat as a reward for his victory.

He lashes out at both Ginko and Sensei and skips school, then encounters Torai, the guy he just beat last night. Now lacking Photon Armor, he’s on investigation duty, but his memories of meeting Souya are fuzzy, so it’s a cordial exchange. Then another, even weirder UFO arrives.

Sensei clarifies that while he and Ginko are with Nebula, they’re with the pacifist faction that only wants to relieve humanity of the power the Photon Armor, which they’re using Souya to do (the “Sealing” faction wants to take it a step forward and actually keep humanity from ever evolving to a point where they develop such power).

Inaba Miu, the youngest member of Grand Paladin, is the star of the show, defeating the UFO after getting stuck in an illusion involving her and her friend and comrade Harumi in a judo match. But shortly after winning, Miu and Harumi are confronted by Souya and Sensei, and a 2-on-1 fight ensues.

Once Souya gets the hang of operating his “Sensei Armor”, he manages to defeat Miu and snatch away her power, but gets greedy and wants to go after Harumi too, against Sensei and Ginko’s order to withdraw. As a result, the rest of Grand Paladin show up and surround them. Could the gig be up just 2/7ths of the way into their mission?

Planet With episode two has the same shortcomings as the first: a whiny protagonist; loose-sketch supporting characters; goofy-looking anonymous UFOs. The CGI fights come with some decent SFX but are otherwise fairly standard 2018 fare. But with no strong characters or ideas to get enthusiastic about, the show feels very color-by-number so far.

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.

Golden Kamuy – 11 – And Now, Some Light Eyeball Licking

It all starts with a coincidence, as Sugimoto, Asirpa, Shiraishi and Kiroranke decide to spend the night at the Sapporo World Hotel, where Ushiyama also happens to check in. Both Ushiyama and Shiraishi are immediately smitten with the comely proprietess Ienaga Kano; unbeknownst to them, she’s running a murder hotel.

Ienaga takes an interest in Ushiyama due to his superhuman strength, and so dangles him along as she settles Sugimoto & Co into their room. While pursuing Ienaga, Siraishi almost crosses paths with Ushiyama, but doesn’t, thanks to a trap door that leads to Ienaga’s torture and dismemberment chamber.

More importantly, the Immortal Sugimoto and Undefeated Ushiyama finally meet, and test one anothers’ prowess with Judo, leading to this hilarous quote from Ushi: “At this rate, we’ll end up killing each other…I like you. Drinks are on me.” With that, Ushiyama treats Sugimoto, Asirpa, and Kiroranke to drinks and dinner, including a dish Asirpa believes to be poop, leading to another one of her priceless faces.

They all get ruinously drunk; Asirpa and Kuroranke pass out, but fortunately Sugimoto can hold his alcohol enough to stop Ienaga when she starts licking Asirpa’s eyes. Shiraishi remembers who “Ienaga Kano” really is: a fellow prisoner from Abashiri, a mad doctor who believed he could achieve perfection by taking the best parts from others.

It’s left up in the air is whether Ienaga is simply posing as a woman or has actually completed full gender reassignment as a result of their quest for perfection. One thing’s for sure, Ushiyama doesn’t care who Ienaga was or is; he’s just committed to screwing them.

That doesn’t happen, as Ienaga triggers the hotel self-destruct system, blowing the whole place to kingdom come. Sugimoto, Asirpa, Shiraishi and Kuroranke escape in one piece (albeit lightly singed) and decide to continue their journey to Abashiri to meet Nopperabo.

They assume they lost not one but two tattooed prisoners in Ushiyama and Ienaga in the blast, but after the credits Ushiyama emerges with an apparently alive (or at least intact) Ienaga, which means Team Hijikata just became one tattoo closer to completing the map.

This episode managed to move the overarching story forward while confined within one crazy kooky hotel and threw together a lot of strong personalities to see how they’d mingle. And it was an absolute riot.

Ore Monogatari!! – 07

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When two heavies in judo outfits confront Takeo while he’s on a pleasant stroll with his adorable GIRLFRIEND, I’m not concerned, because a.) two guys aren’t nearly enough against Takeo, and b.) they’re clearly there to ask him for help. Takeo says yes before he even finds out what they want: for him to join the team, replacing their injured captain.

Agreeing to commit to judo for a month is all well and good…but it will seriously eat into his Yamato time. Like a good boyfriend, he defers to her wishes. Like a good girlfriend, she tells him it’s fine by her. She’s legitimately glad he’s helping the team…not to mention she really wants to see him fight!

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The training is grueling—for the other judo team members, as Takeo tosses them about like ragdolls!—but that training is punctuated with texts of encouragement from Yamato, which he responds to with similar enthusiasm. It’s all very cute, especially when Yamato not only waits for Takeo outside his place with gourmet onigiri (“I can make other things!”), but confesses that she sneaked a look at his sparring—and loved every minute of it.

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There’s a slight chink in the mood when, after spotting a groper warning on a lamppost, Takeo brusquely tells Yamato she shouldn’t come by like this anymore. A chastened Yamato goes to Suna with a double shipment of scones, worried Takeo “doesn’t like her anymore”, but Suna sets her straight, assuring her it’s just another misunderstanding, and counseling her not to get so hung up on little things.

Yamato can hardly help it though, now that she knows what it’s like to be in love—mentioning the rush she gets from the bottom of her heart at the sight or thought of him. It’s a feeling she never wants to lose. She loves him so much, she creeps herself out, and even sees him in the stars, which would creep Suna out if a.) he wasn’t such an understanding and tolerant guy, and b.) he didn’t start seeing him in the stars too!

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Not that Takeo is any less crazy about Yamato. After a hard day of training, he just wants to hear her voice, so texts her and gets an immediate phone call from her. Suddenly on the spot, she starts by introducing herself and then improvising, but she gives him exactly what he wants: her voice.

On the day of the big match that will put Takeo’s school over their rival by one game in the historic series, Yamato (and Suna, for that matter) is hilariously dwarfed by all the huge bodies, but small as she is, her presence is crucial to Takeo’s success.

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When his old grade school buddy Tsuyoshi (who is about the same size as him, surprisingly) sees Yamato, he believes he’s already won, since Takeo has started “wasting his time” on romance. But he couldn’t be more wrong. Takeo may not know exactly what strength is, but Yamato’s presence increases his focus and his resolve to do his absolute best. He’s there first and foremost for her, not the judo team or glory. He wants to put in as much love and effort into his judo as she’s put into her cooking.

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After a spirited bout that excites everyone, not just Yamato, Takeo manages to throw Tsuyoshi down and win the match, putting his school over the top, 3-2. Afterwards, Takeo thanks a Yamato who is already close to passing out from excitement, taking her hands into his and making it plain that he won because she was there cheering for him.

Then the two of them and Suna drop some acid and look up at the sky and spot more constellations…of themselves! And Suna! And a macaron! (Seriously, Yamato would do well on Food Wars…) Takeo was crazy strong before he met Yamato, but now that she’s in his heart, and he in hers, he’s become even stronger. And I’ll tellya what else is crazy strong: this frikkin’ show.

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Medaka Box – 04

With Medaka insisting he win for her, Zenkichi defeats Akune in their Judo match by scoring a point before he could score ten. His victory is short-lived when Akune is cut from the team and joins the student council as secretary. Medaka puts Akune to work immediately, tasking him with assisting third-year tomboy Yatsushiro with writing a love letter. When he brings his first attempt to Medaka for approval, it is summarily rejected. Akune changes his strategy and tutors Yatsushiro so she can write the letter herself. For this, Medaka gives him a pat on the head, and the flowers start to extend past the council room.

We’re definitely noticing similarities between Medaka Box and Sket Dance: obviously, both are about small but spirited organizations that help anyone with anything they might require. The difference so far is that Sket Dance’s comedy is typically centered around how they’re often totally unprepared for their missions, and the difficulties and frustrations they face. Medaka Box, which we like just as much at this point, is about people who are very good at many things. There’s rarely any doubt that a mission will be accomplished, it’s just a matter of how it’s done. Even so, Medaka would never call herself perfect or a prodigy, even if she kinda is; she believes everyone is the same and has equal potential for greatness.

Also unlike Sket Dance, we have a love triangle of sorts in play that really isn’t there between Bossun, Himeko and Switch. Sure, Zenkichi isn’t about to ask Medaka out, but nor will he allow anyone else to take his place by her side, even if it’s a platonic side. Enter Akune, who very much wants to win her heart, even though she’s stated categorically “she can never belong to one person”, which is a little haughty of her. But that’s what we love about Medaka: she’s perfect in somethings, and not perfect in others, but gets away with it. We look forward to the council of three swelling to four, as the opening and ending foretell a second girl in the works.


Rating: 6 (Good)