Juuni Taisen – 10

Juuni Taisen may be at the bottom of RABUJOI’s Fall 2017 barrel, but it’s by no means a bad show, and strong, simple, yet heartfelt episodes like this one only help the case for sticking with it till the end. I thought I’d had my fill of Kanae’s endless drinking and killing; it turns out, so had the show.

It wasn’t done telling us Kanae’s story, about how one day, on some random battlefield, she was mistaken for a civilian who had been plied with alcohol by the dastardly soldiers operating in the area. The man making that mistake was none other than Ushii.

Kanae never has the guts to tell Ushii the truth about her, and instead lets him rescue her and take her to a refugee camp on his back. While near him, Kanae soaks up as much as possible about the guy. She wants to know how a warrior like him does the right thing. His answer is simple: first you have to choose to do it; then do it.

Anyone—including Kanae—who is suffering or tortured has to reconcile the fact that it isn’t that she can’t do right, but that she’s chosen not to. Intent is everything. Figuring out how to do right is folly unless one decides that right is what they want to do.

Kanae takes this to heart, and decides she’s going to crawl out of her drunken hole of misery (in which she realizes she’s been suffering the whole time after all) and re-dedicate herself to becoming a warrior that would make Ushii acknowledge her.

That leads her back to the Aira dojo, where she successfully begs her way into the next Juuni Taisen, all to face off against Ushii. To her annoyance, he doesn’t remember her in the slightest (though to be fair, she was wearing a lot more back then).

And yet, the moment she chooses to do the right thing—save Ushii from Usagi’s disembodied killer arms, and take the sword strike meant for her—even seems to take her by surprise. She’ll be damned if she’s going to let such a horrible fate befall the man who not only saved countless innocent lives during his many exploits, but saved her as well.

If it weren’t for him, she wouldn’t even be there; she’d probably have drunk herself to death (though considering the tolerance she’s demonstrated thus far, perhaps not).

Turns out Ushii has never before been saved by anyone the way Tora did. That means he’s determined to save her again to repay his debt, unaware of the debt she was repaying him.

I thought it ludicrous even in this heightened reality that Tora would last long with a wound like that, especially with the jostling of riding on Ushii’s back. It’s not long then, that Tora herself tells Ushii to put her down; even if they find a hospital and her life is saved, she won’t be able to fight in their duel.

Instead, she calls the duel off and asks Ushii to kill her, lest Usagi claim her corpse. It’s a strong argument, and Ushii agrees to do it. Tora leaves the world with no regrets, with a smile on her face. Her wish, as it turns out, was to be acknowledged by Ushii.

She did more than that. By saving him, perhaps if he survives Nezumi and what’s left of Usagi, Ushii can continue his life of doing what’s right. All because in one crucial moment that made all the difference, Tora chose to do the same.

Kuromukuro – 26 (FIN)

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With Ken planning to leave Earth to help Zell and Muetta fight another battle, Yukina is forlorn, but she regains the will to do something about it thanks to her supportive circle of friends, who have always served as a kind of Scooby Gang, performing impressive feats by utilizing and pooling their individual talents. Akagi in particular takes one for the team, as ultimately Yukina’s happiness is more important to him than being her husband.

 

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When it comes time for Ken, Zell, and Muetta to make their move, trying to open a wormhole to Zell’s world with the Pivot Stone, Yukina and her friends descend on Kurobe lab armed with their wits, the press (so there are eyes on the military’s actions), and Yukina’s unyielding determination to accompany Ken on his journey, lest he go and get himself killed.

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Sebastian also lends Yukina, Sophie and Kaya a hand, while we learn with shock that Dr. Hausen is Kaya’s dad (good for a chuckle). It’s understood that Ken, Zell, and Muetta, along with Yukina and her friends, are violating international law through their actions, but neither Graham nor Scully are quick enough to stop them.

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Even when Scully corners Ken, Zell and Muetta, Yukina manages to pilot Medusa, bursting through the wall and giving Ken an open path to the Kuromukuro. And when she grabs a hold of Kuromukuro and Ken demands she let go, Yukina…doesn’t. She’s in this for the long haul, whether he wants her in danger or not. Ken accepts that Yukina (whom he calls his “wife”) won’t take no for an answer.

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Unfortunately for Yukina and Ken, Tom and Shenmei have orders to stop them at all costs, and while Ken ultimately succeeds in going through the wormhole, it isn’t with Yukina, and they are in an instant separated by perhaps thousands of light-years.

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Cut to a few years later, and thanks to the technology lifted from the Efidolg mothership, mankind has developed interstellar flight, and have built a spaceport a slightly older Yukina, Sophie and Sebastian utilize to finally meet up with Ken (whom Yukina knows is still alive thanks to a bauble given to her by Dr. Hausen).

After a tragic separation, this epilogue paints an optimistic future for Yukina as she says a temporary goodbye to her family and strikes out in the vast expanse of space to join the man she fell in love with. Like him, like the samurai, she is always going forward.

And that finally does it for Kuromukuro. The ending episodes weren’t quite as good as when all shit hit the fan and everyone had to deal with the aftermath in episodes 6-8, but they were still solidly entertaining.

P.A. Works took an offbeat, novel approach to the sci-fi mecha genre, but with lovable characters above-average animation and taut action, and a good helping of the all-important “not taking itself too seriously”, the studio churned out another winner.

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Kuromukuro – 25

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After some “sorta back to normal” scenes with Yukina and Ken back at school, we start to enter the full aftermath of Earth’s victory over the Efidolg mothership. A lot happens behind the scenes, like Yukina’s mom’s firing (which she kinda had coming after that whole mutiny thing).

But front and center is the fate of Muetta, who not only learns from the brainwashed Lefill that she was manufactured using Yukihime’s genetic information, but would have been disposed of as soon as the mission on Earth had been completed. It means if she hadn’t betrayed her allies, they would have eventually killed her off.

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Everyone also has time to sit around and listen to Zell complete the story of how he and a team of colleagues rammed an Efidolg ship, crashing both on Earth, and how of the Washiba clan, he only manged to save Yukihime and Ken. It sounds like Ken’s surviving came down to luck, but Ken is still determined to consider what Zell did a life debt he intends to repay.

As for Muetta, she learns from Zell’s description of his homeworld’s sky that she possesses memories from that world; possibly even those of his daughter who was killed by the Efidolg along with his wife. She’s heartened by the fact such a place actually exists, and wants to go there to see it for real.

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The humans in charge aren’t going to make that easy; again, Hiromi has been fired, Scully is back at the lab, and Dr. Hausen is given carte blanche to experiment not only with Muetta, but the surviving Efidolg pilot as well. I’m worried his fatigue-inducing “medication” could disrupt the nanomachines making Muetta and Ken “conditionally immortal.” To be continued.

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The recipient of the gut punch that ends the episode, however, is Yukina, who has not forgotten Ken’s earlier proposal (and has taken it seriously) and wants to stay by his side no matter what; even if he goes to Zell’s planet with Zell and Muetta.

The only problem is, Ken doesn’t want her to go, and marrying her is no longer possible, because repaying his life debt must take precedence. Ever the samurai, Ken. We’ll see if Yukina lets things stay this way, or if she decides what future she wants and reaches out and grabs it.

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Majimoji Rurumo – 02

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The book of magic tickets are Kouta’s life (something only he and Chiro know) so even when he desperately wants more female members in the Occult Research Club, he daren’t make any more reckless wishes. But the club quickly learns that their witch-summoning was successful, putting Kouta in the unusual position of having to stop his clubmates from stalking and peeping on Rurumo as she camps in the woods.

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So once again, Kouta uses the tickets to help Rurumo (to protect her honor, specifically). And by using her magic, he learned that that was what she and Chiro were doing camping in the first place: waiting for him to use it. She can’t go back to the Underworld until her training is complete, which I take to mean “until Kouta uses up all of his tickets.” In other words, she can return when he’s dead? Something to ponder going forward.

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But first things first: Kouta doesn’t think it’s right for a delicate little witch like Rurumo to live like a dirty hobo, so he invites her into his home. His family consists of his mother, who knows what kind of horndog he is and is constantly staring at him, as well as his little brother and his dad (whom we don’t see). Worried by how bringing a girl home might look to his mom, he tries his best to keep it a secret. Between Rurumo’s loud slipper-shuffling and Chiro yelling in the bath, his clandestine guests don’t make it easy.

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Indeed harboring a magical trainee is no cakewalk, physically or psychologically, as Kouta is so stress out about being discovered he neglects to realize that for three days he has, essentially, been “living with a girl not related to him in the same room before marriage”, which as it happens is the official SI definition of Living Together. In other words: he has arrived, at the “highest stage” of his life, almost by accident.

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The bliss of sharing his room with Rurumo is all too fleeting, however, as his mom storms in the room, and…it looks bad. The situation looks like exactly what she suspects: that he’s abducted a girl and is keeping her captive in his room. Kouta only saves his mom from committing filicide by expending more tickets to magically create a cover story for Rurumo, which is that she’s his sister.

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That means the whole family now accepts Rurumo’s existence in the house as perfectly normal, but it also means she gets a separate room, much to Kouta’s dismay. Still, he’s alive (and not in jail) and Rurumo is safe and secure, so he doesn’t have too much to complain about…though I wonder how many of those 666 tickets remain.

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Majimoji Rurumo – 01

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Sometimes you just have a smidgen of patience and see an episode through. I did with this episode, and it rewarded me by getting better and better as I watched it. Sure, Shibaki Kouta is a horndog, and bits with pantyless or braless girls can be tiresome. But Majimoji Rurumo makes it all work, when given a chance.

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Kouta is pervy, but it’s made clear he’s not entirely shameless, and that his behavior has thus far kept him from having relationships of any kind with members of the fairer sex, let along romantic relationships. It’s something he tries (perhaps not very hard, mind you) to keep in check, but when a first year drops flyers and bends over, well…the old instincts kick in.

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When he does a witch summoning ritual with his buds in the Occult Research Club (not an out-of-place club to have in a show with a witch in it, but thankfully its workings weren’t the focus of the episode), he can’t help but wish for a girls panties instead of a cute girlfriend. That being said, he was just messing around, and didn’t think it would actually work.

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It does, and he finds fruit-patterned panties on the desk in his room. Then a witch named Rurumo falls from the sky. She’s very cool-looking; not too overly detailed, but nicely stylized with her enormous hat. Her cat Chiro is also awesome with his huge pointy ears and little cat sounds he’s even better when it turns out he can talk—with a Kansai accent, no less!

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I was actually pretty surprised when Rurumo said the panties were her own. Kouta takes the whole “panties for your life” thing pretty well, even using his last walk around town as an excuse to try to catch a glimpse, taking him to the “highest level.” This is a game to him. But when he learn that the rules of that game mean Rurumo will be imprisoned for more than a century, he drops the perviness and steps in to save her from that fate.

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The success of the episode hinged on whether Kouta come off as an actual decent human being, and he did. The first and second halves of the episode were very self-contained, something I also enjoyed. The second half deepened their bond by giving him a book of 666 “magic tickets” which will no doubt imbue him with heretofore unimaginable power, but they also represent his life.

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So the stakes are there. It isn’t just a game. And yet he spends a ticket (albeit unknowingly) to heal Rurumo once she comes down to heaven, earning her bashful thanks in return. It would appear he owes his first real relationship with a girl to something that on the surface seems most likely to repel them: a perverse wish made during an occult club ritual.

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I really enjoyed Majimoji. The show had a clean, distinctive, nicely-detailed art style, a playful wit, and an above-average score that helped set the mood. Even its moments of fanservice were both justified and well-executed. I’m eager to see what kind of mischief Kouta gets into with his book of magic tickets. We already know from the ED that he taught Rurumo how to ride a bike, which is bloody adorable.

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