Momokuri – 05 + 06

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Sakaki Rio, Yuki’s tall, cool, athletic new rival, probably thinks the world is out of alignment, and she simply needs to click it back into a place where she, not Yuki, is by Momo’s side, “protecting his smile”, as anime characters love to do.

That Yuki simply slipped into Momo’s good graces with her Poodle-Maltese-esque cuteness and outwardly easygoing nature; but she doesn’t deserve Momo; not really. He’s Rio’s small, cute animal to protect.

But at the start of the episode, she’s at a distinct disadvantage. She’s in the supermarket. Yuki ends up in Momo’s room, then bed, then enjoys dinner with him. Definite FOMO vibes coming off Rio.

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It wasn’t always that way. She joined the tennis club because Momo thought she’d look cool playing. Then he quit, and she got stuck practicing with the older girls that craved her athletic prowess.

She lost her “in” with him, though she’s still in the same class as him and accepts his offer of ice cream in exchange for her study cards. But it’s clear Momo doesn’t see her at all the way Rio sees him, which is more how he sees Yuki. To Momo, she’s just…a friend.

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Whereas Rio’s effort to get closer to Momo (thru tennis) fizzled out, Yuki has gotten to where she is through relentless effort and persistence, without ever exposing too much of her perv-ier side to Momo. More to the point, he’s all but blind to that side of her-like assuming she was feeling ill when he found her in his bed.

What’s amusing about these two is that Momo is often worried that he’s thinking impure thoughts or being pervy and tries to check himself, while Yuki leaps into that arena with such gusto, she often needs her friend to pull her out, by, say, tossing out Momo’s used straws.

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When she inevitably gets found out by Rio, Rio doesn’t turn it into leverage, because she can’t, not without revealing her own hand to Momo (or worse, coming off as mean or vindictive). She’s also clearly a little afraid of Momo’s intense observation and intel-gathering methods.

But Rio also knows that there’s more to Yuki than she thought …much more, though not all of it necessarily good. Yuki is right that Rio understands how she feels about the addictively-cute Momo, but the sheer intensity of Yuki’s obsession overpowers any resultant shame. Rio just isn’t wired that way, but they both like Momo, so it will be interesting to see how she deals.

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Momokuri – 03 + 04

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Momokuri sticks to is tried-and-true formula of getting comedy out of the fact that Momo isn’t aware of how head-over-heels infatuated with him Yuki actually is. Dialogue cuts to her saying outrageous things that are true to her feelings, but those responses are only imagined.

It creates a nice romantic tension, especially considering Yuki is just as oblivious to the fact that Momo is actually really into her too, just not in the same stalker-y way. He even chokes down black coffee to show how mature he is, a ruse Yuki sees right through but appreciates Momo doing it nonetheless.

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You’d think someone so obsessed with Momo would exert a good deal of energy keeping him away from other girls, but to my (and Norika’s) surprise, she couldn’t care less that the girls in his class are all over him, even on his birthday. It just means more opportunities for her to snap pics of his adorable expressions.

Yuki’s gift for Momo is a homemade cheesecake, but the show doesn’t make a big deal about her being good at baking; she just followed the recipe and it turned out…until she hit a pole and dropped it. Momo ends up giving himself a gift that doubles as a gift for Yuki: a simple holding of hands. He saw the opportunity and took the initiative.

Meanwhile, a short-haired girl lurks around the corner…

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Episode four is all about a study session that Yuki arranges with friends of Momo and Norika. Her motives are twofold: help Momo pass exams so she won’t lose him for two weeks of their Summer to extra classes; and the opportunity to visit his house, see his bed, pillow, air, etc.

Again Momo edits her thoughts when responding to one of Momo’s friends when they ask why she likes Momo. Instead of saying his a godlike being, she merely says he’s cute; something his friends agree on, becaue he’s so wee.

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The study session is an opportunity for Yuki to serve her cheesecake for Momo, and for the two to flirt in the kitchen (provoking a little light ribbing from his pals in the next room). During the studying, Momo notices one of his friends has grown pretty friendly with Yuki; while she’s not the nervous type, he apparently is.

The session goes well into the night, so the girls volunteer to head to the supermarket to buy stuff to make dinner. There, we see the short-haired girl int he track suit once more; this time near Yuki by coincidence.

Momokuri is sweet, funny, and uncomplicated, making it eminently watchable. Will the introduction of a new girl ruin that? I hope not.

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Vividred Operation – 12 (Fin)

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Kenjirou believes the uber-alone to be beyond anyone’s ability to defeat, even the Vivid girls. But Akane refuses to give up, finding Rei’s key washed up on the beach, and deciding to fly to the alone where Rei is trapped inside but alive. The others follow. The alone settles over the Manifestor Core and starts sapping energy. Akane docks with Himawari, Wakaba, and Aoi in sequence to break through the alone’s armor, while the others’ suits fail and they fall to the earth. Before the alone can kill them, Akane docks with Rei to create VividRed, who lands a massive, fatal punch to the alone, destroying it. The five girls reunite  but a strange ribbon appears in the air telling Rei her world has been restored. A door appears, and Akane gives her the key. She says they’ll meet again, and after a little time passes, Rei returns.

Once the character issues were resolved, all four girls became BFFs, and the Rei’s misunderstanding was rectified, the series kinda ran out of things we cared that much about. Sure, the Big Bad was still there, but suddenly swallowing Rei last week turned out to be the most interesting thing it would ever do. This week it simply laughs an evil laugh, boasts and gloats, and talks about judging and erasing, and we simply don’t care because the girls will obviously defeat it. Worse, the peril was mired in technobabble; Kenjirou was trying in vain to explain what was happening whan what was happening didn’t really make sense. An event horizon that threaten’s the entire universe? We ask you.

Dispatching the alone did at least require some unprecedented tactics, including Akane docking with all three of the other girls one by one, which gave them something to do. And we knew if Rei showed back up this week, the series would have her dock with Akane too. She’s purple, after all. The resulting Vividred avatar was a successful melange of the two girls’ looks. And she blowed stuff up real good. You’d think that would be all and Rei would start hanging out with the girls all the time, but then, in the most-tacted on last-minute twist imaginable, Akane just blurts out “They’re going to fix it!”, refering to the alone-makers deciding to restore Rei’s world, which we thought was almost as cheap as Aoi secretly hating tomatoes.

So yeah, while the alone thing needed a resolution, we leave this series thinking it ran an episode too long.


Rating: 5 (Average)

Stray Observations:

  • While Zetsuen no Tempest and Maoyu took great pains to minimize casualties in their latter episodes, this series proves it has little regard for the lives of pilots or the great expense of all those frigates and warplanes. After a while it gets a bit silly.
  • Speaking of silly, both the ships and planes are clearly expelling exhaust of some kind, suggesting they’re independently powered by fuel. Yet when the alone starts messing with the Manifestor, both lose power. This makes…NO SENSE.
  • In the closing credits, we see Kenjirou has transferred back into his human body. Which begs the question: what took him so long?

Vividred Operation – 10

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Rei convinces the bird to tell her when and where the next alone will appear, so she can shoot all of her remaining arrows into it in an all-or-nothing effort to destroy the Manifestor Engine once and for all. She visits Akane to apologize for the tomato, and ends up staying for dinner and spending the night. Himawari and Kenjirou discover Rei’s arrows and devise a plan to track the next one she fires. Droids, marines, and finally Akane arrive at her location, and Rei and Akane both learn who they’ve been fighting all this time…

Well now, it’s about frikkin’ time the truth about Rei came out! The thing is, we weren’t expecting Rei to be as surprised as she was that Akane was one of the “four colored lights” defying her plan to power up the Alones. But that very way of describing the Vividforce points out something we hadn’t realized until now for some reason: Rei has never been close enough to the other four girls while they’re suited up for battle, so she’s never gotten a good look at any of them. Sure, the fact the girls wanting to be her friends have the same color hair as those distant lights, but we guess that wasn’t enough for her to put two and two together; she is under a lot of stress, after all.

When the fog clears and Akane and Rei face each other on the battlefield for the first time, we thought it would be Akane whose heart was broken, but Rei turns it around, making Akane the bad guy, calling her a liar who only wanted to be friends so she could get close to her and find out her secrets. Even though we know that’s not the case, Rei can’t help but feel betrayed, and all Akane has in her defense is her word, which Rei doesn’t believe. A spiral of distrust has been forged, giving Rei more motivation to destroy the manifestor so she can get her parents back. The thing is, she only has one arrow left to fire (one arrow was no match for Vividgreen)…and she’s in custody.


Rating: 7 
(Very Good)

 

Vividred Operation – 07

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Mizuha informs Akane that her grades are dropping as a result of her busy schedule. Aoi, Wakaba and Himawari organize a Saturday study group at her house. They each invite Rei, who turns them all down, but comes anyway when she learns who Akane’s grandfather is. Unable to take any more “niceness”, Rei leaves, just before a new Alone alert goes off. The girls defeat the Alone easily, but Rei manages to shoot an arrow into a fragment, causing it to regenerate and attack an off-guard Akane. Her Vivid suit overloads and she starts to fall from the sky.

We were a little shocked when we found out Rei didn’t know Akane was the granddaughter of Isshiki Kenjirou. If the name wasn’t a giveaway, the giant satellite dish behind Akane’s house should have. At any rate, this episode starts off with the girls trying to become friends with Rei, not understanding she puts her wish to bring back her parents above everything, including friendship and her own happiness, and with only six feathers left on her tattoo, finally manages to make a dent in the Vivid system, knocking Akane out of the sky and grabbing victory out of the ashes of defeat.

We liked the new alone that generates a continuous EMP that makes electronics go haywire, and it seems a little easy that the girls’ suits are immune to it, and is more evidence the Vivid system is more magic than science. But that’s really okay, because they don’t end up getting home in time for Momo’s delicious home-cooked supper. For once, Kuroki Rei seems to have the advantage, and we’re not sure how the girls are going to get out of this mayo-topped pickle. Catching Akane before she hits the ground would be a start.


Rating: 7 (Very Good)

P.S. Rei finding Kenjirou’s human body in the fridge is a great moment of quasi-horror.

Tamako Market – 03

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Spring arrives, and with it a new school year. Tamako is interested in her new classmate Asagiri Shiori, but Shiori won’t give her the time of day. Mochimazzi gets lost and falls from the sky and is caught by Shiori, who takes him home to Tamako’s. She stays for dinner and goes to the bath with Tamako. The next day she can’t find the words to thank her, but she ends up back at Tamako’s anyway, helping her lost teacher make a home call. Over coffee and music at the cafe, Shiori is finally able to express her thanks to Tamako, and the two become friends.

This was a very pretty episode, that made us wish Spring were here already. It also makes the friendship of the devastatingly shy Shiori and the bubbly, friendly Tamako almost a matter of fate. After all, external forces (Mochimazzi and the teacher) drew Shiori to Tamako’s house both times, but she enjoyed herself both times. It was also nice to see how an “outsider” deals with all the generosity and friendliness of the shopping district as a whole. If you’re a friend of Tamako, you’re a friend of theirs, too.

While we’ll admit part of us wanted Shiori to finally blow her stack and verbally unload on Tamako, that wouldn’t quite fit the tone of this series thus far. Instead, she practices thanking her in the mirror, and after some strong coffee and a little music, she’s finally able to communicate her feelings. Tamako and the bird aren’t causing her trouble. On the contrary, she always wanted to be part of Tamako’s world. And now she is. Croquettes and sakuramochi for everyone!…Except Mochimazzi…bird need to lose some weight like yesterday.


Rating: 8 (Great)

Vividred Operation – 02

Aoi transforms like Akane, only red, and they use their boomerang and hammer to attack the Alone and deflect its weapon blasts. The Navy assists them in taking out the Alone’s core, but Akane and Aoi can’t “dock” for somereason. A mysterious girl fires an arrow at the Alone, reviving and strengthening it. Aoi confesses what she was hiding – she’s always hated tomatoes – and she and Akane “dock” successfully, joining bodies and minds into one form – Vivid Blue – and destroy the Alone. The next morning they learn their school has also been destroyed, so they’ll have to transfer.

Vividred is keeping things nice and simple so far. There’s a monster; only the girls can prevent forest fires defeat it (by yelling a lot); so they’re given hip sci-fi outfits and told to go have at it. And they do! We’re clearly in maho shojo territory, with only a thin film of sci-fi trappings. (Neat-looking) systems, hardware and abilities are explained, but not in any kind of detail, and that’s a good decision in our opinion. Less technobabble dumps, more action,and Stuff Getting Blowed Up. And a lot of the action is pretty frikkin’ sweet. Lots of flying around in a perfect blue sky, and much firing and dodging of weapons.

Memorable images that flash past the screen include the sight of tiny, sickly Aoi in her cybersailor costume holding up an F-35 with her bare hands and gently setting it down on the flight deck of an aircraft carrier, or the two girls flying in formation with said joint strike fighters. There’s probably double the crotchshots from last week, but that’s okay, they’re quick and not that distracting. Also, Aoi’s Big Dark Secret holding back their docking was…teehee, she doesn’t like tomatoes! We kinda doubt the families of the dozens if not hundreds of people killed in the delay she caused could laugh about it like Aoi and Akane did…not a great moment, there.


Rating: 7 (Very Good)

Vividred Operation – 01

In the near future, Isshiki Akane and her crotch live on the Utopian Izu Oshima island with her sister Momo and grandfather Kenjirou, who invented the revolutionary Incarnate Engine that provides clean energy. On the day when Akane’s friend Futaba Aoi is returning to the island, a powerful “Alone” also approaches, overwhelming UN defense forces.

Kenjirou finishes his latest invention, but as a result his consciousness is transferred into a stuffed weasel. He leads Akane to the Incarnate Engine, atop which Aoi’s plane crashes, and in her flying motorbike, Akane rescues her from falling. Her clothing then changes, and gramps announces the activation of the Vivid Sytem.

This episode does a competent enough job introducing a futuristic world and a brave girl who must get over her fear of heights and utilize her grandfather’s technology to save her island from a fierce baddie the military can’t scratch. When it’s not randomly shoving Akane’s crotch in our faces, that is. Fanservice aside, it’s bright, shiny, and visually arresting at times. There’s no question the production values here are very nice.

We love us some futuristic sci-fi action. But for all its flashy packaging, Vividred feels a bit…routine. Akane is not the most interesting, original heroine (yet). Having watched so much quality sci-fi last year – series that had something to say beyond “girl dresses up fancy/saves world” (They all had that, sure, but that wasn’t all they had.) Vividred will have to find a way to stand out to keep us interested. Less ass shots, more talking weasels.


Rating: 6 (Good)