Gleipnir – 13 (Fin) – The Truth is Out There…Not Here

As Honoka/Aiko’s “Ghost” “erases” another classmate (perhaps involved in the bullying that caused Aiko’s suicide) in front of Elena, Shuuichi and Claire ask Sayaka’s gang to give them all the coins they collected so they can go back to living normal lives while the two of them “end the game” for good. It’s a neat strategy, but unfortunately we never get to see it realized in this frustratingly incomplete finale.

Claire finally gives Shuuichi an ultimatum: either they hang out at one of their houses or they’re through, having had only this one summer together before going their separate ways. It’s a bit out of left field, but the result is Shuuichi invites her to his house, which is filthy and no place for a makeout session. When Claire tries to get answers, a repressed memory of Elena in the same position surfaces, and in a panic, Shuuichi nearly assaults Claire before returning to his senses.

Ultimately, Sayaka’s gang decides they’ll give their coins to Elena and not Shuuichi. Chihiro makes the exchange, but is interrupted by the arrival of Shuuichi, whose memories continue to surface. He now knows that Elena used her ability to erase his memories so Honoka/Ghost Aiko wouldn’t go after him. In effect, she did the same thing to him that he and Claire want to do for Sayaka’s crew: shoulder all the burden.

Shuuichi wants more answers, but Elena is elusive, and a fight ensues, that while technically impressive and exciting, doesn’t really amount to much. With his memories returning Honoka/Ghost Aiko appears and prepares to erase Shuuichi altogether. While he’s busy with “ghost clones” Elena slips behind him and uses her ability, locking the memories of her back away and saving his and Claire’s lives.

And that’s pretty much where we leave things: a stalemate with no time left; an ellipsis. Kaito and Ghost Aiko guard the landing site that Shuuichi and Claire are still determined to reach, reuniting with Sanbe for that purpose (Hey Sanbe). Sayaka and the others go back to their lives.

Mifune, perhaps the most ineffectual character of the entire series, is resigned to moving on from Shuuichi, who was never aware of her feelings. But the power couple is still in the game, and still determined to end it. It’s just unsatisfying that we probably won’t see that end in anime form. Thirteen episodes should’ve been enough to tell this story.

Gleipnir – 12 – Cram School Curse

For those like myself who were eager for answers, the penultimate Gleipnir delivered in a big way, taking us back to the halcyon days of the Yamada Cram School gang, which consisted of Kaito (the lion haired lad), Naoto, Aiko, Honoka, Elena…and Shuuichi. Things would not go well at all for these five friends as the years progressed, and the Alien and his coins only made things worse.

Fast-forward to a few months before the present day, and the friends meet up for a reunion. Only Honoka isn’t there. Only Kaito doesn’t know why: Honoka’s dad murdered someone, she ended up living with relatives, they didn’t get along, and she just…disappeared. Aiko things they should just let things be, since Honoka didn’t tell any of them and so probably doesn’t want to be searched for. Pretty cold stuff.

The thing is, Naoto has noticed Aiko (who is his girlfriend) acting a bit off lately, and when Kaito sees her twirling her hair the way Honoka used to, he follows her and meets the alien. Then Kaito gathers everyone else to explain what happened: Honoka used a coin to transform into Aiko. Kaito believes Honoka did it out of a desire to have “everything” Aiko had…including Naoto, whom she loved.

To Kaito’s frustration, no one wants to do anything about this, and insists that things “stay the way they are.” But that doesn’t sit well with him. He confronts Honoka!Aiko at the cram school, sitting before of the real Aiko’s grave. Believing Honoka killed the real Aiko and took her place, he takes a rope and strangles her to death. It’s a shockingly rash action from someone who had to that point been a normal high school teen, and timing for such rash action couldn’t have been worse.

Shortly after killing her, Kaito learns from Naoto that Aiko’s will was found and addressed to Honoka. Aiko, who had a strong sense of justice and defended other kids being bullied at school, became the bully’s new target, and eventually she succumbed to the despair and hung herself.

Honoka, filled with regret for being unable to save her best friend and was the only one to get a note from her, went to the alien with a coin and asked to become Aiko, believing no one would care if she disappeared, but would be sad if they learned the truth about Aiko.

What’s so heartbreaking is she was pretty much right—everyone was willing to go along with the “new” Aiko despite eventually learning what Honoka did. Only Kaito didn’t want Honoka to disappear, and wasn’t okay with everything the way it was. From this point forward, Kaito disowns Naoto, Elena and Shuuichi, and vows to make them disappear to see how they like it.

He goes to the alien with a coin to make that happen, and in the present we learn he’s the one who has collected 100 coins, no doubt enlisting the aid of the “glowing lady” with Honoka’s form. Elena and Naoto are part of the team attempting to defeat him, but they’re clearly at a disadvantage.

That brings us back to the day Shuuichi encounters and murders the last survivor of Madoka’s gang in the junkyard. We knew Claire called him and he assured her everything was taken care of, but now we learn Claire had gone to the abandoned cram school to investigate Shuuichi’s past on her own.

There, she finds the little stuffed dog that was the inspiration for Shuuichi’s form. It’s concrete proof not only that he was there, but that his memories have been messed with. Months before, Shuuichi assured Elena and Naoto that if Kaito was plotting something, he’d use a coin to respond.

It’s starting to look like Elena didn’t force him into anything, but it will be up to the finale to present the actual moment he got transformed by the alien, and show why he broke from Elena and Naoto and lost his memories.

Magic Kaito 1412 – 04

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Magic Kaito 1412 is simple good fun, with emphasis on simple. Episode 4 seems to go out of its way to make this point clear: the detective who’s chased Kaito for years doesn’t know how tall he is or even his gender, let alone any esoteric details that would be necessary to actually identify Kaito off the crime scene.

Likewise, Kaito himself relies on balloon decoys, gas bombs, and flying machines almost entirely. The occasional Mission: Impossible-style mask aside, “real police” should be able to deal with him by now. It all feels cheap and silly.

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“The truth will always come to light”

Worse, Kaito himself is terribly obvious about everything he does. He’s even in class with a master detective who’s out to get him but somehow stupid enough not to notice “Kaito” acts exactly like “Kaito Kid”.

Also, Really? The police chief’s son is a world-class detective transfer student to Kaito’s class? I know this show is aimed at a younger audience but this just feels contrived and silly.

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So…Here we are 4 episodes into the series and Kaito’s shine is starting to wear. Yes, it’s still a cute show that plays an up beat cat and mouse game. Everything is easy to understand and the goofy magic tricks Kaito pulls off can be fun to watch.

That doesn’t give me much to actually review though and, presumably, critically reviewing a show (not just summarizing events) is why you read them. Sadly, I’m dropping it. Sorry Kaito, your time is up.

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Magic Kaito 1412 – 03

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Kaito takes a break from his quest to solve his father’s murder and thwart the mysterious forces seeking the fountain of youth to shut down Gramps’ bar’s biggest competitor. That bar is certainly owned by some villainous jerks and Kaito is technically  grabbing an amazing pool cue Gramps’ used to own but lost in a bet, but this week’s heist is pretty shallow.

Who knows? Maybe Kaito just wanted to show off to Aoko and/or get her really drunk for fun?

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We start off with a Yakuza giving Gramps crap over how poorly his bar & pool hall is doing and getting Kaito caught up on Gramps’ backstory as a pool shark and how he lost his most valuable possession to another shark years ago. That shark played fair, but his boss, the owner of the Yakuza’s club bar and pool hall, cheated by doing something nefarious to Gramps’ cue chalk.

It’s small stakes, but Kaito was having fun (totally sucking at pool) with Aoko and Gramps’ Legendary Cue is covered in jewels…so? Reasons?

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So Kaito, Aoko and Gramps go to “the American” and, like the dreary lounge music playing there, pretty much everything that follows is forgettable.

Kaito and Aoko, who are under aged, have to dress up and pretend to be married college students to get in. Aoko gets drunk on no-alcohol-free alcohol-free drinks. Kaito pretends to be terrible at pool (and maybe he is?) but pulls a final shot victory after losing all night.

Everything you would expect happens — Kaito even uses dummy decoys again — and the good guys win back the prize by the end. Ho hum.

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This week wasn’t so much terrible, as forced. Kaito is intentionally playing a clown — figuratively playing the clown that his father talks about in a flash back — for most of the hustle. It’s grating and impossible to imagine his opponents tolerating it as long as they do, nor seeing through it as an act.

I mean, if someone sinks no balls for many games straight, then challenges you for the prized item in an all or nothing game, a hustler has to know the hustle is on.

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Also in the ‘forced’ category was the actual criminal activity perpetrated by the mobsters. Really? You smuggle guns by hiding them in the pool tables you play on? What could possibly go wrong?

It’s no wonder the police got there in seconds as soon as the baddies guns were drawn!

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At least the visuals stepped up a notch. Generally, Kaito’s colors were brighter and the palette had more depth. Add in the pool-hall haze this week was Kaito’s most striking visual. Seriously! It had a cool vibe, even if the show is way too silly to actually be cool.

In the end? It was cute but more than a little wonky. Even by the genre’s standards, Kaito did a terrible job covering his tracks. I mean…he’s standing next to his own body double dummy surrounded by totally disinterested police.

Kinda meh.

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Phi Brain: Kami no Puzzle – 01

Daimon Kaito is a puzzle-solving genius with boundless potential. His classmate Jikugawa lends him a PDA containing a series of puzzles, which he proceeds to quickly solve. When he does, he is invited by the “Minotaur” to a grand puzzle with many stages, but with this one, his life is on the line, as well as his friend Nonoha’s, who tags along. With her help, he clears the initial stage, and he is then furnished a golden armband and a red seeing eye, which will help him use all of his brain to solve the puzzles to come.

We here at RABUJOI love it when are expectations are exceeded. Basing our assumptions on little more than the title, we thought this was going to be a somewhat childish romp involving puzzles. Turns out…well, it kinda is, but who cares? It kicks way more ass than we predicted. Kaito is a somewhat Bossun-looking lead, and while his promise to his dad (solve those poor lonely puzzles 0_o ) it’s clear this is just a kid whose brain needs to be constantly challenged. The fiery Nonoha kinda reminds me of Miyoshi from Bakuman – but is voiced by Lain!

Let’s face it, none of the character designs are super original, but they are well-executed and attractive, and full of life and energy, too. The animation was excellent, the soundtrack was very eclectic and as for the puzzles, well, let’s just say it felt like we were watching Myst in anime form, what with the tricky practical puzzles where you may die if you screw up. The system underlying Minotaur – Einstein and Orpheus and whatnot – still somewhat escape us, but this was a great introduction, and we’ll be watching next week.


Rating: 3.5