Sousei no Onmyouji – 24

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SnO continues its episodic format as Roku, Benio, and Sae continue their “country tour” across the country, sealing dragon spots as they go. Last week was a bit of a drag, but this week presents us with Lio, not yet a Basara but by far the least hostile Kegare we’ve yet encountered.

The “non-evil enemy” is a fairly common convention, but it’s well-executed here, as Sae becomes the non-hostile go-between that allows for a moment of peace between warring species, however brief.

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I like how Roku and Benio’s instincts have them shooting Leo on sight, especially when they find Sae with her. But all it takes is a word from Sae, and Leo won’t fight with the exorcists anymore. All he wants is to “see something beautiful”; indeed, it seems to be his only purpose in life. We’ve never seen a Basara just before they became a Basara, so this is new and fresh territory in terms of building the (other)world of the show.

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Roku even ceases charging Leo on sight when he sees tears in the Kegare’s eyes. Somehow, right on cue, the amusement park comes to life, and the seed Roku planted in Sae’s head (and Sae planted in Leo’s) of a “sparkly, beautiful” place comes to fruition…just in time for Leo to get pierced through the chest by an arrow of light.

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That arrow was fired by Sada Sakura, who along with Zeze Miku are members of the 12 Guardians, who don’t know why Roku and Benio are just standing around with a near-Basara. They’re very far away, and allow no time for explanations, shooting first like the Twins, but with far deadlier attacks.

Zeze could be fun if she wasn’t just a deadpan foil for the manic Sada, whose yelling and passion for RULUSU wears thin fast. As for Sae, she flashes a look we see, but Roku and Benio don’t: a knowing expression that, like her ability to learn and make things so easily, is far beyond her years (if she is indeed a little kid and not…something else).

R.I.P. Leo. You were threatening at first, but in the end you were an ‘ol softie, and you were okay by me. Glad you got to see something beautiful before you were taken out.

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Gatchaman Crowds – 07

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Rui summons the Hundred as Crowds in order to eliminate Katze by the waterfront as Jou and Sugane watch. Katze resists by using his note to transform, destroying the Crowds and beating Rui bloody. Jou transforms and intervenes while Sugane gets Rui to safety, but he too is defeated. Hajime and Utsutsu are hell-bent on going to their aid, and OD offers to go with them, but Paiman goes instead, transforming into a vehicle to transport them there quickly. As Utsutsu heals Jou and Sugane, Hajime talks with an invisible Katze, who gives her a parting riddle before letting them leave.

Berg-Katze is one sick, powerful alien, and while he is whimsical and impulsive, he’s not dumb enough to have given Rui powers he himself could not defeat. Thus, Rui’s offensive against him is almost a desperate play; the Crowds are the only trump card he has in the struggle to fix everything on his own, without “heroes.” But even though he’s not a girl, Rui becomes the damsel in distress tied to the railroad tracks, with Berg looming over him from on high, twirling his mustache. In the end, the two knights in shining armor who rescue him need rescuing.

Jou’s futile brute force gives way to Utsutsu’s healing and Hajime’s powers of socialization. He has a placid chitchat with Katze that simultaneously helps her understand him a bit more while buying time for her allies. It’s here where we realized more than ever how similarly bubbly Hajime and Katze are, even though one is an unquestionably good person and the other a vicious, murderous villain. Hajime’s charms disarm him enough to enable her, the other Gatchamen and Rui to live another day. Now bereft of his Hundred, Rui will probably have to reluctantly lean on his heroes more than ever.

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Rating: 8 
(Great)

Stray Observations:

  • Speaking of trump cards, the Gatchamen may have one in OD, though it seems his powers are either a one-time deal, or too powerful for the earth to survive. We can’t imagine he won’t at some point show them off before all’s said and done.
  • One power OD has for certain: the power to nudge his roomie Utsutsu into spending more time with Hajime to make origami.
  • When Utsutsu put the blue bow Hajime made her last week, it dawned on us: there was only ever one, she used her power to replicate it across her hair!
  • Pai-Pai’s bitchin’ transformer vehicle was as awesome as his retreat was pathetic.
  • Katze pulls no punches delving into Jou’s psyche and using his own self-doubt as a weapon.

Sket Dance – 55

Part 1: While cleaning Chuu’s classroom, Bossun drinks from a Coke bottle containing a potion that mixes up his feelings and expressions: he laughs when angry, cries when bored, looks cool when he’s crying and looks angry when embarrassed. Remi messes up Chuu’s antidote, so Bossun’s expression becomes frozen in anger.

Part 2: When doing origami, Himeko discovers Bossun is an origami virtuoso: not only able to make any common form one-handed, but can make a realistic paper sculpture of anything on demand. When Switch tells him about a contest with a one-million yen prize, Bossun holes up in the clubroom and creates a fantastic pegasus, but accidentally uses the paper he wrote the directions to the contest on.

We consider episodes involving Chuu-san’s crazy concoctions to be among the most consistently hilarious of the series, including perhaps the best non-serious Sket Dance episode, number 9 – when Bossun becomes tiny. It was just as hilarious on the second watch, with a breakneck pace and rapid-fire gags that simply never quit. This newest potion mixes up all of Bossun’s expressions, and the result is some truly strange, absurd interactions. As veteran viewers of anime, it’s ingrained within us to expect certain tones of voice to be accompanied by the appropriate expressions. This segment turned that on its head, taking us out of that comfort zone, which was definitely interesting and different.

Far less surreal was the discovery of Bossun’s innate talent for origami mastery, which along with his powers of concentration, dinky slingshot, and “servile” personality, only add to his oddness among shounen characters. The ease with which he makes amazing paper creations is milked for all it’s worth, and by episode’s end he’s acting like some kind of zen master dishing out wisdom. One really nice touch: he replaces his hat and armband with paper facsimilies, but no mention of this is made whatsoever; it’s a subtle gag that works very well, as does his ultimate undoing. Next time pin those directions to the wall or something, Boss.


Rating: 3.5