Shingeki no Bahamut: Genesis – 10

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This week puts two of our three ladies through the wringer, starting with Jeanne. While bound and burning at the stake as her defenders are slaughtered by the king’s soldiers, she has a vision of an angel who basically tells her they couldn’t care less about humans. Then she’s visited by the creepy red-eyed guy once more, and force-fed that suspicious potion he offered before.

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This turns Jeanne into a 1980s rock star demon…a pretty damn badass-looking one, too. She summons her guitar Maltet, makes a stone dragon rise out of the ground, and takes off. That’s not good. Bacchus witnesses this and is mildly concerned, as does Rita, who managed to get out of that situation in the lab and flags the god down for some questions.

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Meanwhile in Prudisia, Amira, Favaro and Kaisar are having a relatively uneventful journey when the damn ground shatters into bits and starts to rise into the air. Another huge demon beast/castle thing emerges, and dramatically transforms the environment…or lifts the illusory vail to reveal the real environment.

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The creepy red-eyed dude who transformed Jeanne (and probably poisoned the kings mind so he’d get her where he wanted her) shows up here too. His name is Martinet, and he’s very evil. I don’t like him. Amira remembers him as her ‘teacher’, who told her she’d be able to find her mother in Helheim. And Helheim, not Prusidia, is where they actually are.

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Rita hitches a ride with Bacchus and Hamsa’s carriage, which accientally runs over the fallen angel Azazel, who has apparently fallen again…out of favor with Lucifer, that is. The demonic doghouse, if you will.

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Back in Helheim, Martinet reveals his master, Beelzebub, who for whatever reason wants to release Bahamut. We’ve been told Bahamut is nothing but pure destruction for gods and demons alike, but I guess Beels has a plan. Unfortunately, he and his sneering assistant are nowhere near as interesting as Azazel and Cerberus.

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Getting back to that wringer our ladies go through: just when you thought Jeanne was having a bad day, Amira is shown her mother, an angel encased in ice, and once it shatters she’s kind of locked in a shocked expression. Amira was always told her mother could ‘take the key out of her’…but always thought that would be a good thing. It isn’t.

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As it turns out, Amira is merely a vessel for the key, created when Beelzebub did something awful to her mother. Amira has been manipulated by false memories contained in her pendant compelling her to come to Helheim at the proper time. Overcome with emotions, Amira goes over hugs her mom, which is a bad idea, because that causes her mom to crumble into a cloud of dust.

Worse, those nice clothes Fava bought her are all burnt up, so now she’s motherless, rudderless, and nude. Her resulting scream of anguish is the trigger that transforms her into the key Beelzebub wants.

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Bacchus and Rita are close enough to see the light of the spectacle. Knowing Bahamut is closer than ever to being revived, they know have to do something. That includes asking Azazel to help them out, which he agrees to do, if for no other reason than he doesn’t want to die either.

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Kaisar? He remains encased in a crystal coffin. Favaro manages to escape when he begs the bad guys to let him come over to their side (That’s So Favaro) but it’s just a trick, which Martinet sees through instantly, and then turns Fava into a demon, just as he did Jeanne.

That means perhaps the only ones who can save the world from Bahamut may be a group consisting of a zombie necromancer, a fallen angel, a drunken god, and a duck. The world is so screwed. Or is it?

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Shingeki no Bahamut: Genesis – 09

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Proving that slipping back into knighthood is like riding a bike, Kaisar gets the command of a search party to find Fava and Amira, and finds them almost immediately in the middle of a very cool forest that wouldn’t be out of place in Nausicaa or Mononoke Hime. Their own arrival there is punctuated by Amira reiterating that she can’t fly with just one wing, which is a pretty good running joke.

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Lavalley sent Kaisar because he wants to stay in the city, because some sketchy shit is going down, not least of which Jeanne has been framed for attempting to assassinated the king, who as we know isn’t the most confident fellow right now. Such is the extent of his paranoia, none of Jeanne’s very reasonable arguments sway him in the least.

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While imprisoned, a creepy red-eyed fellow pays Jeanne a visit and offers her something very suspicious to drink in order to “learn the truth about her gods”.  The guardian angel Michael is nowhere to be found, but Jeanne is staying true to her faith for now. She’s followed her faith and her fate this far; now’s not the time to be faltering or tasting weird drinks.

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Not long after Kaisar and Favaro pseudo-duel, the two of them plus Demon-Amira are suddenly transported to another dimension within the woods, where Kaisar and Amira worry at a large fang-like protrusion stuck in the very odd-looking ground. When they fail, they wordlessly look to Favaro to give it a go, and he yanks it out as easily as a dandelion, to his and everyone’s shock. And that’s not the only shock…

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That odd-looking green ‘ground’ is really the flesh of a massive and ancient dragon, who is glad to be rid of the barb, put there by Bahamut 2,000 years ago. I realize having a big ancient animal throw exposition at the heroes is a common trope in this genre, but this dragon is pretty frikkin’ awesome-looking and sounding, so I don’t mind. I also like how Amira initially calls him “geezer”, but Favaro tells her to call him “mister” instead.

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Of course, once the dragon says his piece — about how Bahamut’s reawakening and thus everyone’s destruction is inevitable, and only by staying here can Amira maybe stave it all off, meaning she’ll never see her mother — Fava himself uses “geezer” in rejecting the dragon’s talk of fate.

The dragon, perhaps impressed by the puny human’s audacity, wishes them well on their quest to change their fate. In any case, he can’t stop them. But he does pull Fava aside for a quick word before the trio departs.

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Back in Antae, the King has decreed that Jeanne is to be burned at the stake as a witch, which is bogus as hell. Lavalley’s entreats for clemency fall on deaf and possibly drunk royal ears. The fact that Rita is still free in the city gives us some hope Jeanne can escape this particular predicament, but Rita snoops around and is caught in the larder of the same sketchy red-eyed guy who probably put the king up to all this in the first place.

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Using the Bahamut barb, the trio warps to Prudisia earlier than I expected, though I welcome the quick transition. Something tells me a place called “The Valley of Demons” isn’t going to be a cakewalk, but Amira wants her mommy, so they’ll continue on.

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Oh yeah, about that word Puff wanted with Favaro…he tells him if he really wants to change fate — i.e. stop Bahamut from destroying the world, the only thing he can do, according to the dragon, is to kill Amira, thus destroying the key and preventing it and the seal from manifesting.

That’s a tough pill to swallow, and yet again puts Favaro on the darker side of gray, as well as giving him a much larger role to play in the affairs of the world, just as Jeanne suggested could very well come to pass.

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Grisaia no Kajitsu – 06

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Grisaia no Kajitsu laid an egg this week: It was awkward, rushed, and profoundly predictable. Dare I say it? Episode 6 was actually bad. Not even the visuals were up to snuff this week and that is very troubling. (with so much light-bloom, it looked like an original XBox game!)

What’s really going on here? Where did my interesting, dark, and vaguely unsettling show go?

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Yes. Yes you are!

Yumi-chan is finally revealed to be the heiress of the Tohin Railway Group, but she’s semi-self-outcast, because she’s a girl and her father wanted a boy, and her mother wished she’d been able to have a boy and committed suicide after her father took a mistress to have a male child, but that male child also died so BOOHOO?!

What a long winded, dull, emotionless basis for a plot. BOO HOO!

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No! Seriously! I wanted to claw my eyes out during this whole episode I cared so little for anything going on. Even Yuuji feels like he doesn’t care any more than he cares that Yumi is this chapter’s love interest and, if he ever wants to complete this terrible dating sim of a prison school anime, he better damn well bed each and every one of these harem-targets!

BOO HOO!

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So Yumi’s idiotic, controlling psycho of a father determines that now is the time to make her his official heir. His best solution to get her to agree to that? Attack her and fill her with terror!

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So Yuuji ignores his orders, stages an armed stand-off with a swat team and Yumi and fakes her death via a hand grenade. After seeing her father mourn at her grave, Yumi feels better and all goes back to normal!

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WHAT IS THE MATTER WITH YOU Grisaia no Kajitsu??

How do you expect us to give a crap about a girl we’ve never spent time with, who’s a selfish prick, who has a bland back-story you INFO DUMP on us in a 240-second long monologue under a bridge in the rain five minutes before faking her death?

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The only interesting element in the entire episode is this railway-themed board game.

The answer is you don’t think about anything and your only answer to any question is boobies!

Guess what? YOU FORGOT THE BOOBIES THIS WEEK TOO!!!!!

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Grisaia no Kajitsu – 05

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Michiru tries to kill herself with pills… sorta… but she’s fine because these are just the pills that control which one of her personalities is dominant. However, after some bed rest, her green-eyed persona informs Yuuji that her blue-eyed form is gone and not coming back.

Thus begins a rather strange and, at times, awkward episode of Grisaia no Kajitsu…

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Green-eye-chan’s agenda and motives aren’t initially clear (or ever, entirely) but it is clear that she’s cleaning house. Whether Yuuji suspects her of suppressing Blue-eye-chan or not, he discovers the ‘passing book,’ the personalities use to communicate.

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After confronting Green-eye-chan, who is conflicted about surviving past the original body owner’s refusal to live, Yuuji over powers her, forces pills in her mouth, knocks her out, and buries her alive on the cliff face she loved so much…

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What follows is a rather censored sequence of flashbacks featuring how the two personalities met. Rather, how they were two separate girls who were both trying to commit suicide from the same school roof top one afternoon and accidentally stopped each other and became friends.

Then original green-eye-chan commits suicide later because she’s clearly been sexually assaulted…

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I’m not proposing that we need to see breasts, nipples, and vaginas to really get this story. Rather, I’m proposing that the blur and white-wash effects are distracting enough to make the story rather pointless to tell in the first place. There are just better ways to tell this story in an interesting visual way, without having to rely on shock value… that we can’t see.

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After coming to terms with her dead friend’s death and her dead cat friend’s death, Michiru finally has the will to live and digs her way out of the coffin. Apparently Yuuji knew she wanted to live, but she needed to get there on her own, so he only ‘lightly’ buried her alive.

Michiru is touched that he waited all this time by her grave side and they walk back to school together and, later, visit green-eye-chan’s house in California. Some how. For some reason.

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To it’s credit, Grisaia stayed pretty dark this week. The tone and pacing were effective at making us unsure if one or both of the eye-color-character-personalities would survive. The art was lovely. At least, what wasn’t censored…

However, I can not tell green and blue apart. I mean, personality wise, which is a very big problem for having any of this mean anything to me.

More importantly, the whole chapter felt like a side quest in a dating sim. Like Michiru wont have any part in the story anymore because, why bother? she’s already ‘leveled up’ to be part of Yuuji’s harem. Hrm…

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Grisaia no Kajitsu – 04

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This week’s Grisaia no Kajitsu didn’t quite know what to do with itself. Was it trying to parody Bakemonogatari with its stoic psychological conversations about life after death? Was it trying to lead us astray with Michiru’s surprise split personality disorder?

None of these new threads play nicely with the panty shots and harem motif that continues to fuel the show. Worse, none of it furthered Yuuji’s assassin plot or the counter assassin plots of the other girls.

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Werewolf/vampire talk foreshadowing time…I guess?

While Yuuji is certainly in Episode 3, I argue that he’s just there for our point of reference and that the true central character this week is Michiru Matsushima. Michiru can be funny and her interactions with Yuuji last week (where he started yelling military commands at her and renamed pieces of her hair after military formations) were hysterical.

Not this week though. Last week’s quick and poppy and bizarre dialog was replaced by a slow and dull musing about death…

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I get that Grisaia no Kajitsu is setting up a foreboding mood and that we’re supposed to worry about a Michiru possibly having a terminal illness or that someone else could be about to die, but the whole conversation feels like it’s ripping off Bakemonogatari.

And that doesn’t work with Michiru. Not when we see her wandering around in a ‘hair bleech’ haze a few scenes later. She’s too goofy to sell the introspection.

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Then we get a few scenes where Michiru’s eyes turn from blue to green and she’s a totally different character and, again, we get a very Bakemonogatari-like scene. In this, the tsundere straight face asks the straight-man what a kiss is like and then they kiss.

As with the death-chat scene, it feels like Grisaia is warning us that Michiru is about to exit the show, via crazy or something else, but I couldn’t take any of it seriously. Well, not with a double personality at least. The kiss scene would have worked nicely without it honestly…

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Just the girls watching shark man with a stuffed tuna

Then the black cat that’s been hanging around at the edges of the show since the first episode is run over by a car and Michiru loses her shit.

Set in the back of a taxi, Michiru tries to give the cat some of his favorite treats. He eats a little but then coughs a blood bloom and twitch-dies. It’s a horrific scene, actually.

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This gag was actually funny but too complicated to explain!

So was it good? Bad? Something else?

I’m on the fence. Killing the cat was a surprise mood (for most of the episode anyway) and the death scene was handled with a brutality that makes me hopeful that, whenever the assassin stuff finally does hit the fan, it will be spectacular.

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However, it was a slow, unmemorable, eye rolling episode otherwise. Introducing a split personality out of nowhere — as a minor side plot — isn’t bold, it’s not a good idea. Yeah I like Michiru but not that much. Not enough for her to get the amount of screen time needed to make such a crazy plot work.

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Grisaia no Kajitsu – 03

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It’s difficult to explain why Grisaia is so good concisely. On the surface, this show is just a harem bit with a string of crotch shots held together by an ex-assassin’s inner monologues, as he goes about his day as a high-schooler.

It’s widescreen and it’s spatial effects raise it above other harems visually, but it relies on many of the same joke telling conventions, unending shots of panties, and the who will he eventually ‘bang’ of creepy harem fanishness.

But the, when was the last time you saw a character full on masturbate onto someone’s bed while someone watched that wasn’t hentai?

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Perhaps that’s a weird example to justify a show as “good”,  but Grisaia is doing a solid job pushing past my expectations — past my comfort zone — and that gains it a lot of credit.

Even more, since this episode was so lighthearted and harem-genre otherwise, it’s difficult to forget that more than one student here is batshit crazy (and armed to the teeth) and that, at any minute, Grisaia’s genre could change, with camera-soaking violence.

On to the summary!

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This week start’s off with Yuuji catching Amane picking his room’s lock and slipping in. He’s not sure what her motives are, even when he witnesses her sniffing his clothing and writhing on his bed masturbating, because it’s pretty clear that her skill level is very high and she could have staged the whole weird scene when she noticed he’d caught her.

We’re not even sure, as are seeing the show from his perspective, but it is disturbing!

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Then Yuuji encourages Makina to jog through the pain by teaching her the “Amane Suou is a Bitch in Heat Song” and we are again catapulted past our expectation zone. It’s jarring but also funny and charming. More importantly, it disarms us with it’s silliness and makes us forget the twisted side that’s creeping below Grisaia’s surface.

More twisted than a girl who is so boy-crazy she’s going to finger herself in his bed, at least.

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The rest of the episode also aims to distract us. We see all the girls accepting Yuuji more, from sharing meals with him, to making fanny-packs for him. It’s all very genre appropriate and smile-making but those vacant eyes can’t lie.

Or maybe they can and that’s the point: we have no idea what everyone is thinking. That’s gotta be disturbing to a master assassin who’s going to a walled school ringed with cameras.

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Grisaia has solid comedic timing, decent animation and effects, and fanservice that is actually more aggressively sexual than normal fanservice, which gives it extra punch. If you have room in your Fall ’14 viewing schedule, you owe it to yourself to give this one a look.

Just be warned that, nipples or not, censor ‘clouds’ or not, this show is toeing the line for how adult it can get.

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Grisaia no Kajitsu – 02

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This week focuses on Makina and Yumiko, the childish aloof and tsundere murderess respectively. Neither story is earth-shatteringly interesting and neither reveals much about the mystery of the school itself and why everyone is there but they are charming, well timed, and thoughtful.

Perhaps more interesting than either story are the short flashbacks of each girl’s arrival at the school from Yumiko’s perspective. The are brief (they run during the credits) but they establish almost as much about the characters and their class-relationship back story as we’ve seen developed during the meat of the show. Telling us Amane is a Biker Gang member, truthful or not, is an amusing proposition regardless.

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In the first act, Yuuji stumbles upon a sleeping Makina. After checking her pulse and inspecting her partially eaten apple for poison, he let’s her sleep. When she wakes up, he casually follows her and is bemused as she feeds fish and has it out with a ‘claw fish’

They bond and become friends, which surprises everyone else. Without knowing enough Japanese, I’m wondering if this show just made a self depreciating joke about Engrish or not. Either way, the scenes are cute. Almost funny.

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Much of the rest of the episode is devoted to Yumiko and her wish to stab Yuuji. Up to his arrival, she’s been the mother figure of the student body. Sorta. And Yuuji’s presence does not set her at ease.

Unfortunately, Yumiko does not appear to be an assassin (nor even on the level of Amane) and she is totally useless at attacking Yuuji. I can’t rule her out as being some sort of nasty weapon for hire or some other form of underworld miscreant, as the show implies everyone here is. However, it would be funny if she was the only one who was not…

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This week took a mild but more than a little awkward dip into ‘cutesy’ style. Not enough to make me angry with it, nor really can I fault it per say: Yumiko’s attacks on Yuuji are pretty silly. Childish, even. Making fun of them makes sense. It’s just a dangerous line to toe.

GnK is not the kind of show that I would watch if it got to silly.

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Last but not least we meet JB, Yuuji’s immediate employer. She’s a sexy bombshell who drives a fast yellow car and she annoys the hell out of him. Frankly, she annoys the heck out of me too. She’s just a dull character, fraught with cliché and a unnecessarily pointless story thread.

Additionally, making all the girls jealous (even if it’s just an act to lull us and Yuuji into a sense of ease) came off as silly. Sillier than Amane’s footsie play earlier in the episode at least — AND THAT WAS SILLY TOO!

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In shot: GnK still worked. The mystery is still interesting, still unrevealed, and even though we got very little, we got glimpses of motivation and setting. Episode 2 was far less unsettling than the first but, I’m hoping, this is all going to plan.

Till next week, don’t enrage any girls with exacto-blades!

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Grisaia no Kajitsu – 01

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Protagonist Yuuji Kazami is transferring to a new school. An ordinary school. Something he’s always wanted. Unfortunately, the defense ministry has sent him to Mihama Academy, which doesn’t seem ordinary at all. Not even on the surface.

Grilled by local security for not allowing his bag to be screened, nearly killed by air-head school principal Chizuru Tachibana along their drive, and ringed by a school wall dotted with ever watching cameras, its all rather puzzling the Chizuru keeps up the charade. It doesn’t seem to be fooling anyone.

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Upon arrival, Yuuji sets out to make proper introductions to his fellow students. The first of the 6 VIPs who reside in his dorm — who make up the entire student body — is Sachi Komine, who’s dressed as a maid for rather odd reasons.

Grisaia no Kajitsu really shines in the spacial effects department. Many shots have great depth of field, subtle shifts of focus, relative plainer rotation and dynamic scaling. it’s actually masterful work. However, Grisaia no Kajitsu also uses simplistic 3D generation for many of its hallway walking shots (and the driving scene) which isn’t bad, just strange. Noticeable.

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The following morning, Yuuji encounters Amane Suou, a buxom and easy going bombshell, and Makina, who is a crybaby. Again, Yuuji introduces himself through some clever banter but Amane appears to be the one controlling the scene. Also: lots of fanservice.

Throughout this and the previous scenes, ‘unease’ permeates everything but what truly jacks up the tension here is a happy, generic, shopping mall-esque music looping in the background. I never realized typical anime BG music could amp such a creep factor…

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Finally, Yuuji encounters Michiru Matsushima, who appears to be practicing her introductions and other social interactions in the classroom. Of all the initial encounters, this was the quirkiest and most amusing. In no small part because the characters (and their banter) click so well.

Michiru is fantastically awkward… but you also get the sense that every introduction has been staged for Yuuji. It’s subtle, but the feeling of his discovering each girl seems fake. I wonder what they’re up to?

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Which brings us to Yumiko Sakaki, a girl who only comes to class at night to read and doesn’t socialize. Fortunately, Yuuji is skilled enough and strong enough and wary enough to prevent her from slashing his throat.

And until the credits roll, and we see what some of the girls are up to in their rooms, bomb making and such, I still had no real idea what this show was going to be about. Following the credits, I’m a little hesitant but hopeful. I’ve seen plenty of bad assassin high school dramas in the past, but the masterful art and weirdness of this show may well carry it far above those dull expectations.

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Grisaia no Kajitsu’s bizarre nature is difficult to capture through description, so I’m excerpting my favorite thread from Yuuji’s constant internal monologue as an example:

  • “I’m sure they’re all in their rooms, doing homework or something. No, Wait. We didn’t get homework today, which means the theory that they’re in the rooms doing homework doesn’t hold.”
  • “So what are they doing? The only other things students do while secluded in their rooms is…”
  • “They’re masturbating?”
  • “Well, whatever they’re getting off to in their rooms, I’ll just pretend I haven’t noticed.”

Amnesia – 08

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The heroine is now in a world where Toma is her boyfriend, as well as her childhood friend. He is very attentive and caring, but in the course of the next few days, her mailbox is filled with garbage, someone misses her head by a hair with a dropped flower pot, and she is accosted by Ukyou, who warns her she’s about to die. She stays at Toma’s place, but while shopping she goes off alone, and the Ikki Fan Club corners her.

The show is called “Amnesia”, but this week it could might as well be called “Paranoia” – full as it is of shadows and secrets, threats and intrigue. The heroine starts this next chapter out of it to begin with, but like no other episode before, she’s a marked woman, and there’s the sense she’s on borrowed time. She may not be dating Ikki, but she’s still meeting him periodically in “The Back Alley”, so his fangirls are as ferocious as ever with their acts of psychological warfare and outright assault. And then there’s a particularly sinister Ukyou, who’s acutely aware that she’s jumping from place to place and dating a different guy each time.

He rather flippantly informs her of her impending death (jerk). Orion’s nowhere to be found, and Toma is doing all he can to protect her, but he can’t be awake and by her side at all times, and every time he isn’t, she gets into hot water. We’re curious what the fangirls think they can get away with in a busy mall, but one thing is certain: the heroine has gone with the flow thus far. If she doesn’t want to end up dead, she may need to take a more active role in preserving her life. Though every other time she’s “died” she’s simply woken up somewhere else.


Rating: 7 (Very Good)