Mayonaka no Occult Koumuin – 02 – Another Bang for Another Buck

After two episodes, one thing that stands out about MOK is the quality of animation…or rather lack thereof. There’s a number of things drawn in a fast, iffy, haphazard way that all combine to distract from a story that probably needs better production values to hold my interest.

Which is a shame, because MOK is as strong with the Japanese mythology as it is weak in actually showing it, from the nekomata Yuki who reunites with Arata (who thought Yuki was just a regular cat years ago) to a mysterious nine-headed kishi that threatens to cause further Another disturbance.

Arata and the other midnight occult civil servants are putting in overtime to investigate a string of recent burglaries involving very particular magical objects. Arata, with his “Ears of Sand” that can understand Anothers, is immediately one of the more in-demand members of the office, as if it wasn’t for him, they wouldn’t be able to gather the information they need to connect the dots.

There’s also a weird tension between Arata’s desire to reason with all Anothers through dialogue and his co-worker’s belief that’s naive and even reckless. They maintain that Anothers are distinctly another, and that they and humans just aren’t going to see eye-to-eye on things. I tend to side with Arata on this; after all, the position of the others is due largely to the inability to ever properly communicate prior to Arata’s arrival.

Still, Arata manages to do something stupid and touch a magical circle of some kind before determining whether it’s safe. He and Kyouichi are teleported deep beneath a mountain, where the “oni” who was riding the kishi, stole all the magical objects, and created the magical circle, is there to welcome “Abe no Seimei” with a horde of kyoushi, or Japanese zombies.

That last-minute reveal finally introduces some serious peril to what had thus far been a mostly harmless job; the kyoushi can’t be talked to or reasoned with, so Arata had better hope he can convince their master to make them stand down. I bet Arata wishes he’d listened to his grandpa more…

TenSura – 09 – Adult in the Room

With Shizu absorbed, the adventurers gone, and the village on autopilot, Rimuru explores his new human-mimicking ability, and learns that his default form has no gender.

He can make it any age and as masculine or feminine as he likes, but steers clear of the latter (looks too much like Shizu) and maintains the default form, continuing his practice of looking deceptively twee.

While practicing some of the new abilities he got from Shizu, Ranga reports in: the hunting party is under attack by a group of six ogres. These ogres (or oni) don’t match Mikami’s idea of the hulking, ugly brutes, but one thing’s for sure, they’re confident in their abilities.

Their red leader believes Rimuru is responsible for the destruction of their village and intends to get revenge. Rimuru leaves only the pink mage to Ranga and quickly dispatches three of the remaining five.

But the white ogre knows the skills he’s using and where he got them, and can even slip past magical sense. The red one also has a fire attack, which is obviously useless against the immune slime.

Rimuru decides to remove the aura-concealing mask and show them his true power by breaking out one his newest abilities, Black Flame. Red is impressed and scared, but as the leader of his people he’s not going to back down just because the cause is hopeless. It takes Pinky, who also happens to be his sister, to be the voice of reason among the ogres.

Everyone stands down and they work through the misunderstanding. Both sides’ people are healed up and Rimuru invites his new horned friends back to the village for a feast (which he’ll now be able to taste in human form). And now I know who all those horned folks in the OP and ED are!

As for what their story is, that will have to wait for next week. Until then, I welcome the introduction of six more very cool-looking characters.

Kuromukuro – 22

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With Kurobe Lab captured, its remaining staff brainwashed, and the Pivot Stone in Efidolg hands, the enemy halts its advance, allowing the good guys a measure of uneasy peace this week. Zell pays a visit to the Shirahane household to tell the story of how he met and befriended their husband and father Takehito.

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From the moment Zell jumps out of the shadows when Takehito tries to cut himself (to lure the “ogre” to his trap after many other baits failed), their entire interaction is pure gold. I love how unafraid Takehito is of Zell, and how Zell, while a little weirded out by this guy just runs with it, inviting him to his cave for some tasty boil-in-a-bag, showing him where he came from, and warning him of the Efidolg threat.

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Yukina’s father parted ways with Zell but got caught in a sudden snowstorm that claimed his life. Koharu would’ve just been a baby when this happened, but Yukina regrets calling her dad a liar, when he was right about everything. The “ogres” (or “oni”) that are a part of Japanese legend were actually ancient aliens.

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That night, as Yukishi says a prayer for Takehito, Muetta…wanders off, but not back to the Efidolg. She actually has no idea where she belongs anymore, only that it isn’t here. She can’t get the childhood memory of her homeworld out of her head, and the fact that memory may be fake doesn’t make it feel any less real or powerful.

Ken and Yukina go out to look for her, but the activated Pivot Stone lowers the temperature of the vicinity significantly, causing premature snow. Yukina trips and falls into a snowdrift, but Koharu’s ferret finds her, runs back to Muetta, then leads her Lassie-style to Yukina.

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Once again proving she’s not evil, Muetta strips down and warms the freezing Yukina up with her own body heat, causing Yukina to wake up very confused, but then very grateful for saving her life (and I’ll just say Ken really dropped the ball leaving Yukina behind without making sure she got back home safely.) When Muetta breaks down into tears at her frustration of not knowing where to go or what to do, Yukina gives her the only thing she can: a comforting hug and her belief that everything will be fine.

Like everyone else in this episode (who hasn’t been brainwashed), all Muetta and Yukina can really do is keep on surviving. Muetta notes that the premature Winter is the effect of the Pivot Stone, which will soon open a “star path” for the main Efidolg invasion force—if it isn’t open already. I simply don’t see how anyone survives if that force reaches Earth, so if anyone has an idea how to stop it and send the Efidolgs packing, now’s the time.

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Kuromukuro – 02

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A brief glimpse is all we need to learn why Kennosuke called Yukina ‘princess.’ Yet for his stalwart protection of the lookalike from robotic monsters, he is thrown in a cell, where he dreams of a time that has long since passed.

Meanwhile, Yukina, who pushed the red button that released him from his long slumber, is told to “stay put” by her mother, at least until they has a better picture of what’s going on.

Yukina does not stay put.

Her mom leaves her phone behind—again—allowing her to escape about the same time Ouma does. It seems that fate was meant to bring these two together.

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Kennosuke has been moving so fast, it isn’t until he and Yukina have a moment to breathe that he realizes…she isn’t the princess. He voices he’s upset in a most amusingly old-fashioned manner, but when his cockpit-cube arrives and transforms into a ‘steed’ at his command, he still puts Yukina in the copilot seat. She’s not the real deal, but could she be a descendant? A reincarnation?

Yukina blasts past Mika and other shelterers as the steed takes her and Kennosuke to his “Black Relic”, the centuries-old equivalent (and likely template) for the UN’s GAUS suits (which don’t appear this week).

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Once outside in the world, Kennosuke is, not unreasonably, very confused and disoriented. The mountains are familiar, but what’s with the lake? “A wonder of human ingenuity,” says Yukina. “Deceptive drivel!” says Kennosuke.

Similarly, the buildings of the city they approach appear to him like giant tombstones, which they will actually become if the yellow scourge, which Ken calls an Oni or “Demon”, is allowed to stomp around unchallenged.

I dig Ken’s archaic way of speaking, as well as his almost complete unpreparedness for being in the modern world (despite, you know, piloting the giant mecha) Yukina, for her part, remembers her father’s tales of demons coming to devour everyone, suspects that’s now what’s going on, and perceptively declares this situation “the pits!”

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Fortunately, Ken was right to put Yukina in the copilot’s seat, because not only does she understand the relic’s interface, she serves as an invaluable second set of senses in their battle with said demon. The JSDF and ASDF’s conventional military forces are completely worthless against the beast, so it’s Ken and Yukina or nothing.

The battle itself is heartening, not just because it brings a ferocious energy that was somewhat lacking last week, but again shows Ken still a lot to learn about modern urban combat. He’s understandably rusty, but thanks to Yukina, he stays alive and his relic is undamaged, while they score a hit on the yellow demon and force it to retreat, ascending up to an infernal mothership lurking in orbit.

In hindsight, these first two episodes work far better as a double episode than separately, with the true climax not arriving until the city battle this week, which puts Yukina and Ken on more equal footing as co-pilots. This may seem like ‘the pits’ to Yukina now, but it’s also a definite path forward.

Where before she was simply drifting about, unsure of how to become the successor to her mom she assumed everyone around her expected her to be, now she has the means to become something else entirely; something just as important, if not more so.

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