Mekakucity Actors – 12 (Fin)

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While I recognize the wide appeal of the music of this show, I found the meandering, anecdotal lyrics to be tiresome and less deep and clever than they thought they were. That, along with a stubborn reluctance to ever let its audience in on its secrets, contributed to the less-than-glamorous scores I’ve been giving the episodes, and why Mekakucity Actors closes with an uneven finale that had me wishing for more.

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I found myself far more engaged with various character portraits than with the over-arching plot centered around Marry, the granddaughter of the “Monster” whose exploits were narrated in the show’s omake sections. That plot is resolved this week, as we learn Marry is the one who, wishing to be with her friends, basically created the world where everyone’s living.

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I will say, I enjoyed how the Mekakushi-dan was finally whole this week and operated as a team, but I still felt a bit short-changed. Considering the time spent thus far on their individual stories, their collaboration is all too brief, and there’s no more time to explore the new dynamics, aside from a couple incidental quips.

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This could be a factor of my watching too much varied anime at once, but I must admit I was a bit confused why not only Ene was in a human body again (I recalled last seeing that body in a liquid-filled tube, but what happened in between?), but also Shintaro just showing up with Ayano. And what exactly happened with Hiyori? I’m not trying to blame the show for my lack of comprehension regarding certain matters, but it really felt like certain things were omitted simply due to lack of time.

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Granted, the animation it pretty good as the snake takes oveer Konoha’s body and becomes “dark Konoha”, and Marry’s transformation and the big moment when she decides not to reset everything back to happier days like the snake wanted, but cancelling her wish, which causes the snake’s existence to cease. But in this case, pretty good animation wasn’t enough to carry it.

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I only ever saw disjointed flashes of excellence in this show, and it doesn’t help that there already has been a Shinbou-directed Shaft series where a cute red-eyed half-medusa girl voiced by Hanazawa Kana is the key to everything. The show did technically wrap up the main plot, but it felt quite rushed and I found much of the shows’ potential to have been kept bottled up. As such, Actors goes into the “Just Okay” pile of Shaft/Shinbou efforts.

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Final Cumulative Score: 7.33
MAL Score: 7.75

Mekakucity Actors – 11

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Mekakucity continued its freewheeling M.O. of jumping from flashbacks to the present and from one group of characters to another, shedding more light on how they got to where they are, where they’re headed, and how they’ll get there—in a word, as a single united group.

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The snake possessing Kenjirou’s original plan was foiled by Ayano’s suicide, but he’s still at it, and wants to use the group to fulfill his host’s wish. It wants to do this not because it’s necessarily evil (though it doesn’t think much of humans) but because doing so allows it to exist in the first place.

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Still, the snake is a prety wishy-washy and somewhat creul entity, so he doesn’t have my sympathy. If the choice is between letting it continuing existing or letting the Mekukashi-dan, I’m going with the latter. But it’s clear that neither side really had a choice in the matter. When the snake encounters wishes, it’s in its nature to fulfill them, no matter how much chaos it costs.

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As he lingers at his sister’s gravestone, Kano finally lowers his armor and has a good cry in the arms of Seto, who arrived wondering what was up. Kano has a right to be upset; he watched his sister fall into another dimension, never to be seen again, but both his pain of those events and the responsibility to right things isn’t his alone.

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Similarly, when they finally chase him down, Kido and Momo explain to Hibiya that he’s more likely to save Hiyori if working together with them. When they’re captured and imprisoned in a futuristic jail by mysterious enemy in white suits, Momo ups her idol powers to call for help and cheer Hibiya up, all while being concealed by Kido’s powers.

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It works, as it draws not only Kano, Seto, Marry and Haruka to their location, but Takane as well, back in a physical body. The only Actor missing is Shintaro, who spends the episode in his house talking to Shion, then entering the dreamworld where he meets with Ayano and repeats the refrain of the episode: the time for fighting alone is over.

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Mekakucity Actors – 10

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It’s been abundantly clear for some time now that Mekakucity isn’t particularly interested in presenting a linear narrative, preferring to blend episodes of the present with glimpses of the pasts of the characters involved in that present, for us to better understand, or more to the point, care about said characters.

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This week, the present is mostly placed on the back burner in favor of Kozakura Marry’s backstory. Wouldn’t you know it, she’s the granddaughter of the “monster” in the fairy tale. One day, fearful townsfolk come to kill the monster, but she fiercely protects her husband and daughter Shion—Marry’s mom—before leaving them, and the world.

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Marry was raised to believe her eyes would turn others to stone, just like her grandmother Medusa, but her life of lonliness grows intolerable, and she can’t help but cry out for help. Help arrives in the form of Seto Kousuke, who has eyes just like hers, even if they’re embued with a different power. In any case, a connection between two kindred spirits is formed, and the rest is history.

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The entire flashback is neatly framed by a dream the present-day Marry is having while nodding off, when she’s supposed to be keeping an eye on Amamiya Hibiya. This leads to her finding Konoha and bringing him back to HQ, and after seeing Marry’s mom and dad, we couldn’t help but wonder if Honoka’s resemblance to them was intentional. In any case, Akiyuki Shinbou certainly has a thing for manipulative asshole snakes…and now that we know where Marry is coming from, we care about her more than we did before.

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Mekakucity Actors – 05

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This episode started off a bit unjustly for Shintaro: he wakes up in a random bedroom (that turns out to be Marry’s) and Ene makes him strip before she’ll tell him anything, and that’s how the other Mekakushi Dan members find him: in his underwear, on Marry’s bed, staring at his phone. For that, he’s tied up and ridiculed. Where is the King’s Justice?

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At any rate, Shintaro is part of something bigger now, whether he’d like to be or not; it’s either become a member or become a hostage, as he knows too much to be neither. It’s obviously a lot to take in for a shut-in meeting five new people all at once. This is also interestingly the first time we’re seeing Shintaro and Momo interacting as bro and sis, and it’s…adequate.

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The entire episode was similarly adequate, filled mostly with sitting or walking around not doing much of anything, but couple new connections were made. When Shintaro went off on his own he bumps into a very memory-challenged Konoha, who spots Hibiya and Hiyori (who ISN’T dead!) getting kidnapped and acts instinctively with some pretty awesome superpowers.

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We also learn that the founding commander of the Mekaushi Dan was Ayano—something Shintaro probably didn’t know. Between Shintaro’s (and Hibiya’s) “dreams” that involve her and the strange fairy-tail like stories about a monster girl that end each episode, there are still many mysteries left to solve.

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Mekakucity Actors – 04

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As of last week seven of the nine “actors” were known to me, so it stood to reason the final two would be unveiled this week. They are Amamiya Hibiya and Konoha, and the episode unfolds almost exclusively from Hibiya’s perspective. He told a string of elaborate lies to his strict father to gain permission to travel to Tokyo to spend the summer with his friend and crush Asahina Hiyori.

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Our first exposure to Hiyori is in Hibiya’s head, an ideal of the girl he loves. In reality, she inivited him to be her slave. Worse still, a third wheel—Konoha—ruins Hibiya’s hopes of being alone with her, and she falls in love with the older albino instantly. Hibiya is shown to be a capable, confident person, but allows Hiyori to run roughshod over him; ironic considering what happens in the episode’s very cryptic second half.

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That’s when Hibiya goes to bed (with Hiyori fawning over Konoha deep into the night) and has a series of eerie, monochromatic nightmares in which he confronts Hiyori in a playground, but a black cat always comes between them and she ends up dead, no matter what he tries in the next “dream”, save the last one, when he pushes her out of the path of a speeding truck and gets hit himself.

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But it’s not exactly clear what’s a dream and what’s reality. Hibiya seemed desperate to tell Hiyori how he felt about her on this summer trip, but his opportunities were ruined by her hostile attitude and the presence of Konoha, and it seems as though she died before he was able to do so. We’re sure future episodes will shine a little bit more light on the events that transpired here, but I must say I found the dreamy, morose atmosphere very absorbing.

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Mekakucity Actors – 03

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After shifting, seemingly randomly, from Shintaro’s story to Momo’s, the show reveals that the events of the past two episodes preceded, then ran concurrently, with those of the first, only from fresh viewpoints. Therefore, the first three episodes comprise thee cohesive story of how the Kisaragi siblings met the Mekakushi-dan.

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I thought this was very clever, and literally and figuratively filled-in the blanks on a first episode that seemed to be a bit too intentionally abstruse at times, while the second episode felt like the first of a series of episodic character portraits. This third episode ties everything together into a satisfying whole that also does a good job formally introducing seven of the nine members in the credits.

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For their parts, the characters we saw hints of in the first episode make a far more lasting impression, and all of them own their roles well: Kido’s quiet angst; Kano’s incorrigible tricksterism; Seto’s affable calmness, and Marry’s clumsy vulnerability. They also all contribute their unique powers (all involving their eyes, which turn red when the powers are active) to the mission to save Momo’s bro.

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Between invisible and super-visible girls, a girl who can stop people with her gaze, a guy who can read minds, and a guy who can make people see illusions, there’s plenty of power to go around. It’s not surprising that once they found each other they decided to form a group dedicated to watching each other’s backs; more family than gang, with a lot of nice interpersonal dynamics.

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