Houseki no Kuni – 11

One of the many enduring charms of HnK is how every character’s traits are derived from their namesake gem in creative ways. Take Alexandrite, AKA Alex, AKA Lexi. The two nicknames are apropos, as Alex/Lexi has a split personality; extremely timid when green-haired; but going berserk when looking upon a Lunarian.

Real-life alexandrite changes color depending on the light; green in daylight, red in artificial light. While moonlight is reflected sunlight, there’s no doubt that the moon’s reflection adds another dimension to it; if we consider the Lunarian to represent moonlight as opposed to daylight, Alex/Lexi’s color change (and personality change to boot) makes sense.

Lexi proves handy with a sword, but only manages what Dia and Bort managed: to cleave the Lunarian into smaller and smaller clones of itself, albeit less and less threatening ones, kind of like a Matryoshka doll with its nested duplicates of reducing scale.

Before long the hulking beast is reduced to dozens of fluffy half-sheep, half-puppies, but when the gems round them all up, they merge back into that single hulking beast. Phos is ready to lure it away with another new alloy membrane trick: making an all-alloy decoy of a gem.

Phos’ vigilance proves unnecessary once Master Kongou appears. Despite its size the Lunarian is as docile as its one hundred-plus mini-clones; and even does a series of tricks at Kongou’s command. Phos finds it odd that Kongou calls the beast “Shiro” and acts very familiar towards it. It leads Phos to suspect there may be some kind of connection between the master and the enemy that he hasn’t revealed.

Phos goes out to ponder this and comes afoul of Cinnabar once more. Cinnabar bears two “gifts”: Bort’s loafers, and the last piece of the fluffy Lunarian. Cinna also has news for Phos: most of the Gems already knew about Kongou in relation to the Lunarians, but as he seems so committed to their care and safety, they’ve decided to trust him. Cinna is on the fence, and actually seems to take interest in what Pho plans to do…only to turn around before Phos can answer.

Phos has a little alloy malfunction while calculating the amount of courage needed to confront the master…but Phos wants to know the truth. When Phos returns to HQ, Kongou is asleep beside the beast (with many gems curled up asleep in its fluffy tail).

Before Phos can open her mouth, she has a vision of Antarc, who shushes Phos. The last “puppy” merges with the larger beast, which disperses in a cloud of light, having become whole and, in Kongou’s words, “found peace.”

After that, Phos gives her report on her partnering with Bort, stating that all Gems should have the opportunity to work with Bort. Phos, however, wishes to pursue another matter on their own: regarding Lunarians. Believing the only way to get answers is to ask them directly, Phos stands on guard awaiting their return.

From there, the episode shifts to something completely different, hastily introducing the new character of Padparadscha, an incomplete gem Rutile has been painstakingly reconstructing in the lab. While the prospects for this character are intriguing, especially when they open their eyes to end the episode, it feels like another episode altogether.

The awkward, arbitrary nature of the transition was almost enough for me to bump this down to a 7. However, this episode managed to earn my recommendation anyway, thanks to the interesting development of the “Shiro” incident, both with its ingrained comedy and its role in giving Phos a new goal to pursue.

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KonoSuba 2 – 08

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Whether he wanted to be or not, Kazuma & Co. are involved in the mission to repel the herd of running hawk kites in heat. Darkness selflessly sacrifices her body to the stampede, only for each and every bird to dodge her, which kinda turns her on anyway.

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Darkness’ stimulation continues when Kazuma takes command and uses Darkness as a lure to lead the kites into a cave, the entrance to which Megumin explodes. The armored darkness proves too heavy for Kazuma, so he follows her suggestion to tie her to the wagon and drag her behind, which she really enjoys. It’s basically a Darkness clinic.

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Kazuma’s plan to use all the weird abilities and quirks of his comrades (I call it ‘accidental competence’) works like a charm, and that night the convoy want to reward them handsomely…only Kazuma can’t take their money, because he knows something they don’t: the herd only showed up because they were drawn to Darkness, the “hardest” obstacle in the area.

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Everyone (except Megumin) awakes in the middle of the night to a horde of zombies, which Aqua quickly exorcises (along with Wiz, whom she overlooked), and again, the convoy wants to reward Aqua and her party, but Kazuma won’t take the money, because again, the zombies only showed up because of Aqua.

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Forget Aqua’s parlor tricks: this party could make some serious money luring baddies into the vicinity of people, then save those people from those baddies. No one is the wiser here, and I bet Kazuma, and possibly the honorable Darkness, are the only ones who would protest such an arrangement, on ethical grounds (which is funny considering Aqua is a goddess).

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When the party finally arrives in Arcanretia, it appears to be a lush gorgeous city with clean air and beautiful people, but things turn sour in a hurry when every other person in town turns out to be pushy zealots of Aqua’s Axis cult, which is fine with Aqua, but no one else.

These zealots pull out all the stops proselytizing Kazuma and Darkness and trying to get them to sign up. Darkness also gets turned on when she bears her Eris necklass and the Axis followers react with disgust and spit on the ground.

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The Axis followers gradually wear Kazuma down to the point he’s vulnerable to a cute litle girl who trips on a stone. Kazuma and Darkness help her, and she asks his name, and to show her how to write it on a piece of paper…which is the form to join the Axis cult.

With that, Kazuma finally loses it, as any of us would, tearing up the form and making a big loud scene. Darkness may love the abuse the Axisers pile on her, and Aqua may love the positive attention, but this is definitely not a place for Kazuma to heal and relax.

It’s torture, and the episode is very good at heightening his stress until he blows. Only Megumin and temporary party member Wiz aren’t completely unhinged about something this week. Another wonderfully manic and hilarious outing.

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