Hinamatsuri – 12 (Fin) – Losing Your Balls is Snow Big Deal

Hinamatsuri ends on a hell of a high note, with two stories that while not very closely connected to one another, nevertheless ruled so hard. We pick up on Hina, Hitomi, and their two male classmates’ predicament of being lost in the snowy mountains. With Hitomi in charge, they soon have an igloo built, but unless they get help, they could die up there. Hina takes a rather casual view of their sitch (the “snow big deal” being a pun she seems particularly proud of)…until they tell her there’s no food.

Right then and there, Hina decides that this is one of those times when her telekinetic powers will be needed, and commits to finding a way to get fed rescued. She goes out to fly around and finds a light, but when she tells the others her secret, they think the cold has gotten to her. She eliminates all doubt by floating before them, then making Hitomi float.

The kids take this well, most likely because in as dire a situation as they are, she’s their only hope, and, well, she’s not crazy, her powers are real. After they try to recharge her powers by attempting to create the illusion of being in a cafe that serves ikura rolls, she makes a giant one out of snow.

A rescue helicopter easily spots the sculpture, and is extremely confused by it, but not so confused they crash! Hina and the others are picked up, and the next we see her, she’s safe in a hospital bed with a very relieved Nitta by her side. His nonchalance to the phone call about Hina was just putting on a tough-guy act; he really does care about her.

After that, and a montage of everyone in the city going on with their lives, we jump three years into the future and across the western sea to China, where Mao has lived and trained with a martial arts school. When she first arrived by raft, she scrapped together a living on the streets much as Anzu did, until taken in by the martial arts school’s master.

The rockstar dude who Hina once performed saw Mao’s feats of telekinesis on YouTube and has come along with many others to “learn the secrets”, even if it’s just a sham to sell regular old martial arts training. Mao is also still talking to handmade dolls representing Hina and Anzu.

Just when she was getting restless living such a regimented life as the golden goose for opportunist martial artists. Rocky reveals that he knows Hina, the girl with the same blue hair as her doll. Mao is overjoyed she finally has a lead.

Her handlers don’t want her going anywhere, however, so they chase her into the street and attempt to apprehend her. That’s when Hinamatsuri turns into a straight-up martial arts action show, with some of the best animation of the entire series as Mao takes down her ochre-suited opponents one-on-one and all at once.

While the latest-introduced and least utilized magic girl, with her Cast Away episode and now this extended segment, Mao has definitely had some pretty awesome adventures that have allowed her to efficiently demonstrate what a badass she is (as if we needed any reminders). It’s the best fight since Hina took on the whole of the rival yakuza organization.

Their master agrees to let Mao go with Rocky to Japan…if she can defeat a “metal man” that’s basically two rapidly spinning shafts no ordinary human could ever stop or even slow down, lest they get pulverized. Mao stops the thing dead with her powers, but makes sure to make it look like she used her martial arts to do it, positioning her arm and leg right where she stopped the shafts.

Her handlers buy it, and she and Rocky are off on a plane. Rocky to help Mao open new branches of the school (another stipulation of her release), and Mao so she can report to Ikuruga about losing the transport balls, and, more importantly, be reunited with her friends Hina and Anzu.

Things end so abruptly that I suspect the adventures of Mao, Hina, Anzu, Hitomi, Nitta, and the others aren’t over. I certainly hope not, anyway. A second season would be most welcome, especially if the show continues to be inventive in how it uses both the girls’ superhuman powers…and their humanity.

Advertisements

Hinamatsuri – 09 – A Tropical Vacay, a Promotion…and a Funeral

If Hina had simply been sent home via orb, none of the hilarity this week would have transpired. Chalk that up to an “organization” that is way more incompetent than you’d expect of an entity that deals with girls with terrifying telekinetic abilities. You’d think there’d have been some kind of revolt at this point.

Consider Mao: the “shy but capable” courier meant to deliver a new orb to Kei for Hina to use to return home (so that’s not off the table like it is for the officially-dead Anzu). Only Mao is transported to a remote tropical island just north of Indonesia, and both her orb and the spare for Hina are washed away within moments of arriving.

From there, the first act is a one-woman homage to Cast Away starring Ozawa Ari as Mao. She certainly is capable, able to survive just fine for days thanks to her ability (though why’d it take twelve days to make clothes?) Like Tom Hanks, she makes a friend—two friends, Anzu and Hina—out of coconuts. Unlike Tom Hanks, she voices both of them.

Weeks pass, and like Hanks, her hair gets longer and she develops a more stoicly intense look, while her “friends” have grown bodies. But eventually she snaps, tosses the coconuts—which are not her real friends, but just, well coconuts—off a cliff, and does what she should have done weeks ago: builds a raft and sails for the mainland (though ends up in Thailand, not Japan).

With Hina’s departure again indefinitely on hold, we move on to Nitta. He and Sabu have been ordered to pick up Nitta’s former brother Naito “The Slayer” from prison. With the president in a coma prior to naming a successor, an idiotic little power struggle plays out, thanks in equal part to Hina and Sabu.

Nitta manages to convince Naito not to challenge the lieutenant, but when Gramps wakes up and names Nitta his successor (to placate Hina, to whom he’s taken a shine), Sabu has too quick a text trigger. Both the lieutenant and Naito believe Nitta played them to steal the throne. Nitta sets the old man straight and the lieutenant is reinstalled two minutes later, but Sabu never texts this to the still-enraged lieutenant.

Before he knows it, Nitta is encased in an oil drum full of hardened concrete, with the LT and Naito ready to make him swim with the fishes. But Sabu’s chronic nausea is the first sign something is amiss. Nita’s failure to “nut up and go out like a villain” is another.

The president arrives just in time to corroborate Nitta’s defense. Once the LT and Naito realize they jumped the gun (with Sabu continuing to vomit but not own up to causing this) it’s needless to say an awkward situation. The LT decides to promote Nita to replace him on the spot, and everyone cheers him…but he just wants to be let out of the damn concrete. Where’s Hina when you need her?

Well, she and Nitta are apparently fine now after she walked in on his “one-man party.” We know this because there’s a helpful side note at the bottom of the screen. And that’s fine with me; that shortcut enables us to move on to something funnier: Hina planning a celebration for Nitta’s promotion.

She reaches out to virtually all of her amassed acquaintances, who all have different suggestions. I particularly liked Mika’s suggestion of booze…while drinking booze, stating she’s always celebrating the fact she was born, which is a slick way to excuse her alcoholism! A woman after my heart…

Hina can’t decide which persons advice to use, so she combines them. However, she isn’t able to procure booze, and spends so much on flowers she cans afford a cake, so makes one out of salt

Jormungand – 24 (Fin)

Two years after Jonah left Koko, the entire world has been set ablaze by wars and sits on the brink of WWIII. Koko hires Kasper’s men, including Jonah, to guard her as they launch the completed quantum computer into orbit in Kazakhstan. Kasper knows her plan, but he tells her it won’t stop him from selling weapons. Jonah decides to quit, and wanders on his own. Two days later he is in Baku, where Koko and her team are waiting for him. She’ll stop an impending New Soviet attack on the oil fields by activating Jormungand. Jonah agrees to return to her side.

Well, unless there’s a film or another season to follow up, we’ll never see the new world Koko Hekmatyar created, with the help of her hot female scientist friends and merry band of bodyguards. But we’re okay with that. Ending things the very moment she activates Jormungand still leaves open infinite possibilities. Will her way work? Conventional wisdom says no; and so does Kasper. He makes the argument we made last week: people will fight with rocks and sticks if they have to. But Koko is surely well aware of this and any other arguments.

Bottom line: rocks and sticks can’t cause the same mass death and destruction as bullets and bombs from the sky. She also believes putting a proverbial leash on humanity will humiliate them into submission. If they are as nasty, brutish and short as Kasper (and Hobbes) think, there may be nothing Koko or anyone else can do to stop the human urge to wage war. But it’s nice to think that just as two years of watching the world ignite taught Jonah that Koko’s plan is worth a try, perhaps a few years without the use of the skies will convince calmer heads that peace is worth a try.


Rating: 7 (Very Good)

Jormungand – 10

Koko’s men take out the Dragon’s escort force without any difficulty, but Dragon manages to escape with the injured Dr. Riviere. The Dragon mobilizes more men to mount an antiaircraft assault on Koko’s plane, but they’re ready for it, with infrared jammers, flares, and a 122mm gun mounted to the back of the plane by Mao. After depositing the doctors near the refugee camp, Koko calls Scarecrow and Chocolade offering the Dragon for the $5 million international bounty, they agree. Lehm, Wiley and Mao ambush the Dragon’s convoy and retrieve Riviere, then leave the dragon tied up for the CIA to pick up.

One criticism that can be leveled against Jormungand thus far is that sometimes it feels like Koko’s band of merry men have it a bit too easy; that they’re a little too perfect, and that the outcome of any particular mission is never in serious doubt. Furthermore, all their success has led to an atmosphere of warm comraderie that has yet to feel the drama or sting of serious losses. It’s been ten episodes, and not one of Koko’s ten bodyguards have been killed, or even seriously wounded. So…DO they have it too easy? In our humble opinion, no. We’re having a blast watching them succeed. They succeed because they’re pretty much the best at what they do, and those they’re up against usually aren’t.

Take this week’s adversary: the “Dragon.” He’s just a spoiled little shit whose position was handed to him by his father. He has a militia of guys who likely fight for him to put food on their families’ tables and because they fear him. Meanwhile, Koko has a squad of elite special forces who fight for her because they love her, and (with a couple exceptions) simply love fighting, too. They’ve got the skill, resourcefulness, experience, and toughness to defeat just about anyone when they’re humming on all cylinders, and Koko makes sure they always are. The daring aerial escape was the perfect exclamation point on the notion that you do not fuck with Koko, unless you want to get burnt. She’s a Dragon too.


Rating: 8 (Great)


Car Cameo:
The Dragon may command his own militia, but rather than splurge on an S-Class or A8 or hell, a camo’d Lambo, he has a relatively modest Mercedes C-Class (W203).

Jormungand – 09

Koko is hired to smuggle by air a group of humanitarian NGO doctors called ODH into Republic T, Autonomous Region X, where a brutal, petulant militia general known as “The Dragon” holds sway. The Dragon arrives to inspect the cargo hold after the plane touches down, but Koko won’t allow it. Riviere, leader of the ODH, comes out to try to reason with the Dragon, but he is shot in the shoulder and cheek for his trouble. Koko orders her men to open fire on the Dragon’s militia.

A good arms dealer always has an escape plan in place just in case things go sour. Koko is good at dealing arms, which is why both she and her crew are weary of aerial missions. A plane can get to remote places with ease, but it needs time and space to take off and land, and these are resources that can all too easily be taken away. Koko, Lehm, and others continually mention how they have a bad feeling about this week’s doctor-smuggling mission…and they turn out to be absolutely right.

As Jonah has learned, for all her weariness about flying missions and shrewd business acumen, Koko is also a risk-taker who’s often reckless with her well-being, which explains why her force of bodyguards is so numerous and fierce. But far from just the military thugs they often go up against, many have a bit more nuance to them, like Mao, for instance, who even has a family back home he’s supporting. But when things indeed go sour and the country’s Number One Asshat shows and sticks his nose into Koko’s business, she isn’t the slightest bit cowed. She trusts her people to keep her safe, even if she sticks her head right into a dragon’s jaws.


Rating: 7 (Very Good)

Mirai Nikki – 22

Akise learns he’s just an observer created by Deus to collect information. He’s about to decompile into raw data when Kousaka finishes turning his diary into an apprentice future diary using Eighth’s phone. Deus releases him back to the real world, where briefly separates Yukiteru and Yuno, using his new Detective’s diary to predict their actions. Hinata warns Yukiteru that even when he’s a god, he won’t be able to bring anyone back. He doesn’t believe her, and kills her, Mao, and Kousaka to get to Eighth. Akise destroys Yuno’s phone, but she has another identical one, and she slits his throat, but before he dies he types a message into his phone that Yukiteru reads…

What if you’ve been working towards something, sacrificing your morals in the process, only to learn that that thing is impossible? Well, as in Yukiteru’s case, you’d probably be in denial, but believe it deep down. But having come so far and killed so many, what does he have to lose by killing a few more? It’s pretty obvious now that as a god, he could bring back the “flesh” of his dead parents and the friends he so quickly and thoughtlessly murdered, but he’ll never be able to bring back their souls. That sucks….

Akise Aru is revealed as another part of the game, and one that was supposed to remain neutral, at that. But he fell in love with Yukiteru, and managed to survive long enough to possibly deliver him the information that will save his life, even if Yukiteru doesn’t want to live anymore at this point. What would it matter to Yukiteru at this point if his Gasai Yuno is really a fake…or even a doppleganger of some kind, who wants to kill him? She’s already succeeded in killing everyone else in the game. We’re curious to see how the series will use the remaining four episodes, which seems like a lot to be left considering how much has happened.


Rating: 3.5

Mirai Nikki – 20

Yukiteru disregards all this talk of imposters – “Yuno is Yuno” as far as he’s concerned. Ninth wants to defeat Eleventh, but she barely escapes from his guards while spying on him and Eighth, whose Server diary he connects to a supercomputer to make all the citizens of Sakurami into apprentice diary holders. Deus tells Ninth that Eleventh designed the diaries for use in the survival game, and his allows him to spy on other diary holders, while his secretary lets him avoid misinformation. Nishijima is killed and Ninth is cornered, but she’s saved by Yukiteru and Yuno, who arrive with civilian hostages, the mayor’s weakness.

And so Nishijima follows his late superior to the grave, protecting the person he loves, as his late superior did. He tries his best to get Minene to agree to marry him in order for his help, but it doesn’t come off as desperate or creepy, and even Minene can’t help but be flattered. Just when she thinks she’s found a way around Eleventh’s spying by using Kousaka, Hinata, and Mao, he sets a bomb off that takes off her hand, and Nishijima gets a bullet to the heart, followed by more when he makes himself her shield.

This episode primarily followed Minene around. She’s certainly a much deeper character than the touched-in-the-head school terrorist from her first appearence, but all this talk of getting married and having kids bemuses her teribly. It seems absurd to her: she’s always lived alone, for herself. Still, she appeared to find the possibility at least somewhat intriguing, and when Nishijima was killed, eliminating that possibility, she seemed genuinely hurt. As for Yukkii and Yuno, they’re still cheerfully wreaking havoc, running along that path to godhood. Eleventh is a tough cookie, but if anyone can crumble it, it’s that pair.


Rating: 4

Mirai Nikki – 15

When Yukiteru asks, his friends agree to continue to help him. With Eighth and her apprentices after him, Akise suggests they hole up in Kousaka’s manse, a massive property with a cell phone tower that will knock out the apprentices’ connection to their diary server. Their plans are foiled when Yuno cuts the power, apparently there to continue protecting Yukkii. They are able to stall their pursuers until Akise shuts down the cell tower, but the stylish couple cornering them aren’t the Eighth’s apprentices, together they’re the Seventh, Mar and Ai. A battle between couples ensues, with Yuno managing to fend off both attackers for a time, but one of Eighth’s people sets the house on fire. Yuki wakes up in the hospital with Yuno and his friends safe, but his and Yuno’s diaries were taken. Ninth shows up disguised as a nurse to gather info.

Wow, a lot happened this week, and showed just how rich and chaotic Mirai Nikki can get with so many different friends, foes, and in-betweens in the mix. And heck, Yuki’s estrangement from Yuno didn’t even last a whole episode! Here we were thinking she was on the back burner while Yuki deals with new threats, but leave it to her to show up and insert herself right in the middle of things. In typical stalker fashion, she even stopped by his house to cook him dinner without him even knowing. This episode got us thinking (as it did Yuki): left to her own devices, will she always default to drugging and confining Yuki? Perhaps, but there are more pressing matters. She can’t have Yuki if he’s killed by these other diary holders.

Here, the series pulled another fast one on us; making us believe for a while that the lovey-dovey couple were apprentices of the huge-faced Eighth. But like all the other holders, they have their own individual motives, though it’s cool that their diaries help them operate as protection for one another. For all the dark, ridiculous insanity this series cooks up, it not only provided a smidgen of comedy with the Sevenths, but also kept things realistic: Hinata and Mao couldn’t do much against the seasoned fighters. Interestingly, the Sevenths also lack that killer instinct of say, Minene (who they also managed to squeeze in, yegods!): once they had Yuki and Yuno’s diaries, they just left, and even carried the girls out of the burning house. What kind villains!


Rating: 4

Mirai Nikki – 14

Akise trys to negotiate with Yuno, but she alters her memory to forget about them. Kousaka is about to give up hope when his phone suddenly becomes an “apprentice future diary,” listing his brilliant successes, the first being escaping from the gas chamber. When he reaches the control room, an agitated Yuno pretends to make nice, but once he releases Akise and Mao, Yuno shoots him with a dart gun. She’s about to kill him, when Yukiteru – awake and freed by the tied-up Hinata kicking his cuff keys to him, rips the gun away. With three more apprentice diary holders on the way, Yuki has Nishijima get them out all out of there. Yuno remains.

Meddling Kids Akise, Hinata, Mao and Kousaka really got themselves into a pickle, with Hinata tied up as Yuno feeds Yuki (and helps him wee-wee) and the rest about to asphyxiate in a cloud of gas. When Akise’s bargaining fails, its all up to Kousaka, funnily enough – someone who’s been pretty useless and whiny up to this point (and is responsible for locking them in the room in the first place). The series introduces the birth of new future diaries, making his “Kousaka King” variant in the nick of time. It isn’t perfect, as it only sees his successess and not his failures, but thanks to some good luck (Yuki coming to at the right time; his key landing close to Hinata), it gets the job done.

With Kousaka and the trio of apprentices sent to the abandoned hotel to kill Yuki (led from their home by a woman with a freakishly big head), we now have this bred of not-quite future diary holder, and Kousaka would seem to be an apprentice to become the next Eighth. We’re wondering if this is because no one has killed everyone else fast enough, or if this just a system we weren’t told about until now. That Yuno is merely left behind – not killed outright – she’ll remain a threat to the end, but in the meantime, there will be some new faces going after Yuki. We’ll see how much more involved his friends get.


Rating: 3.5

Mirai Nikki – 13

Yuno has escaped into the sparsely-populated mountain towns, but Akise works with Nishijima to track them down with the help of Yuki’s schoolmates Hinata, Mao, and Kousaka. Yuno is ready for them though, and sets up a variety of booby traps, ending in their being locked in the basement of an abandoned hotel and about to be gassed. Meanwhile, Yukiteru is holed up in a dark room with Yuno, who drugged his soda. Murmur wagers Yuno will win the challenge, while Deus keeps Yukiteru as his favorite.

This week mostly followed around pretty sane group of kid detectives, all of whom Nishijima put at dire and unnecessary risk. A good detective Akise may be, but there was no way for him to prepare for whatever threats Gasai Yuno might send his way. So what we have is all of these normal kids being locked in a celler, about to be killed, all thanks to the terrible judgement of Kurusu’s former assistant. While they’re free, Akise, Hinata, Mao and Kousaka spend some time at a bathhouse as a pretense, but seemed more like a showcase for Hinata’s boobs and Mao’s attraction to her.

Aside from Yuki, Yuno, and Uryu, there are only three diary holders left, so we have to wonder exactly what Yuno is up to with those guys still out there at large. After all, if what she really wants is Yuki all to herself, then it stands to reason she’d have to kill all the holders in order to make that happen. Of course, reason doesn’t play that big of a role in Yuno’s plans, which is why they seem so random to us. It would seem all of Yukiteru’s attempts to “center” or “tame” were for naught; she’s going off the deep-end, all CCTV and underwear and skulls. How will Yuki’s friends get out of this one? How will he?


Rating: 3