RokuAka – 10

After a super-clunky third mini-arc finale, RokuAka rebounds with a strong opening for the fourth, albeit one somewhat hampered by a very obvious Wolf-in-Self-described-Fiancee’s-Clothing.

We start with a little housekeeping: Re=L enjoys a nice warm conciliatory dinner at Sistine and Rumia’s folks’; Celica travels to the depths of the library to peruse a map of what looks like Melgalius’s Sky Castle (hey, they didn’t forget about that!).

In that same library, Glenn thanks Sistine for saving him with Reviver, making her remember her mouth-to-mouth, which causes her to turn red as a hot poker.

All of this is preamble to the main event: the arrival of handsome young elite professor, Leos Kleitos, sent to fill in for a Alzano professor on leave. Leos also introduces himself as Sistine’s fiancee, going off of what Sisti believed to be just joking around when they were both kids—but Leos takes their childish promise seriously, and will harbor no dissent.

If Glenn is jealous, he copes by expressing shock that such a fine upstanding man such as Leo could possibly fall for such an “impertinent white cat”—a case of the pot calling the kettle black if I ever heard one. He sits in on Leo’s lecture, which is impeccable in its goal of clearly, succinctly teaching students how to become as powerful as possible as fast as possible.

But that’s just it: Leo is teaching students, not necessarily recruits for the magical branch of the military. He’s teaching them how to use these powers, but leaving out how not to let them use them, something that fits more with Glenn’s philosophy. The contrast isn’t lost on Rumia, who almost seems to read Glenn’s mind about his disapproval of Leos’ approach.

Leos also finds in his private chat with Sistine that not only is she not someone who’s simply been standing around waiting for him to come and sweep her off her feet; she’s one of those students not necessarily interested in becoming a solider. Indeed, she’s still very much committed to keeping her promise to her gramps and exploring the Sky Castle.

Apparently oblivious to the irony of someone who puts so much weight in what Sistine said as a young girl about marrying him one day, Leos dismisses her dreams of pursuing magical archaeology as worthless in no uncertain terms. And this is where Leo’s calm facade shatters: to him Sisti is someone who should fawn before him, accept his offer of marriage without hesitation, and let him hone her into a powerful military weapon.

Glenn, eavesdropping not on his own but at Rumia’s behest, can only take so much of Leo’s verbal abuse before he leaps from the bushes. Leo tells him to mind his own business, but it’s Sisti who says it is his business, for she and Glenn are “lovers who have sworn our future to each other!” The announcement comes as a bit of a surprise to Glenn (and everyone) but it’s really a long time coming.

Sisti has feelings for Glenn, and has deemed he’s worthy of them. And Glenn is quick to swoop in and accept the mantle of lovers, perhaps going a bit far with details, but all in the noble service of irritating Leo. By the end of the confrontation, Glenn has challenged Leo to a duel.

And just as he lobbed barbs at Sisti when he saw that Leo wanted her, Glenn looks forward to one day marrying Sisti, which means marrying into money, which means not having to leave the house or work. It’s a veneer of the old bastard, but I’m not buying it anymore, and I’m not really meant to. It’s just how he confronts the world.

Albert can see through him too, but for a reason that only the OP had spent much time hinting at: Sistine reminds Glenn of his and Albert’s old comrade, Sara Silvers. We don’t get a clear look at Sara’s face, but we do see the similar hair and the fact Glenn calls her “White Dog” and blushes in her presence.

It’s clear Glenn had feelings for Sara, but she was apparently killed in action while they were on a mission to eliminate a drug called “Angel’s Dust”, which Al has on authority is somehow back and in the city. Angel’s Dust can apparently turn people into “ruined husks for others to control”, which sounds right up the RDW’s alley…along with Leo, for that matter.

But it’s also made clear that Leo was also putting on an act at the academy, and that it was his job to get Glenn to challenge him to a duel. He succeeded, and his shadowy contact—who I’m going to go out on a limb and guess is related to Glenn by the look of him—is happy about that…which can’t be good.

But more on that next week. Till then, we’ve learned the depth of affection Sistine has come to feel for Glenn after all their harrowing adventures, and that won’t change just because a prettier face from her past shows up. Also, maybe Rumia doesn’t get kidnapped this time, yeah?!

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Ao Haru Ride – 12 (Fin)

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You’ll probably call me naive or even masochistic for holding out hope someone would confess to someone in this final episode, but I still steeled myself to expect a phone ringing before Futaba could get the words out after that excruciating pause. The interruption turns out to be her stomach growling.

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While that’s pretty dang disappointing, it’s not the end of the world; in fact, it’s probably a good thing: Futaba only just opened up that door; shoving a confession in there on the same night is a bit much. Opening the door at all is still a huge victory for Futaba, who hints to Kou that his brother might need to be told he doesn’t resent him for being away when their mom was sick.

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That leads to a really great scene with the Tanaka men all under the same roof eating dinner together like a family for the first time in who knows how long. With Futaba’s cool rushing-to-the-rescue expression and words of encouragement still ringing in his head, Kou takes small first steps to reconnecting with his brother and dad.

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So now Futaba and Kou’s friendship has deepened and maybe started turning towards something more, so it’s a shame there are no more episodes to see how that goes. As if to acknowledge things aren’t quite the same, the two act very self-conscious and shy around each other, unsure of how to act after all that hugging. But Kou shows again how much of an effect Futaba had on him by agreeing to take the study groups seriously, resulting in him scoring higher than the other four.

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Summer arrives, and with it comes a concerted effort by the show to set up a potential second season, what with the Tanaka/Shuuko/Aya triangle being reestablished, Yuuri reiterating to Futaba her intention to court Kou, and another shot of that random kid Futaba accidentally groped. I know of no firm plans for such a season, but I wouldn’t necessarily be opposed to another Blue Spring Ride.

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Ao Haru Ride – 11

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Not sure what this exchange was all about, but I warn you, show: I’m in no mood for new characters!

Most of the first half of this episode expounds upon the daily grief, emptiness, and hesitation to care that Kou has felt every waking day since losing his mother. The manner in which he lost her: very slowly; while he was mostly alone with her; while working so hard to get good grades and a good job that he didn’t spend as much time with her while she was healthy; that he didn’t even catch signs that she might not be well, even though he was doing everything for her; that his brother told him to look after mom, and he failed.

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These are the reasons Kou is the way he is, and the reasons he changed so much from the boy Futaba fell for in middle school. And for once, the show comes up with a metaphor for us: it isn’t so much how Futaba puts it: that the door to his heart is closed and double-locked, it’s that the door doesn’t have a doorknob or keyhole. He’s not just keeping people like Futaba and his new friends out; he’s trapped inside, and doesn’t know the way out of there.

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Doorknob, lock, or no, Futaba is determined to break through that door no matter what, not just to let herself in, but to bust him out of the emotional prison he inadvertently built. Futaba is more determined than she’s ever been, to the point that Yuuri doesn’t really seem to have that much of a chance. She may know about Kou’s grief, but when push comes to shove she didn’t have the guts to do what Futaba does, descend upon him like a storm that will blow the door to his heart open.

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As clouds gather in the sky, it takes grabbing Kou, falling upon him, and embracing him tightly, as well as finding the right words to convince him, but Futaba seems to finally make some progress, giving Kou the “permission” he’d always been seeking to feel for someone or something again. That no hole in his heart can’t be filled, even if it takes more than one, or dozens, or hundreds of smaller things to fill it. It isn’t going to be easy, but Futaba is there to stand with and support him in the gradual but necessary process of forgiving himself and moving forward.

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Ao Haru Ride – 10

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No one likes being left out, especially when it involves two people you’d rather not be together alone, as Kou and Yuuri are to Futaba. The fact that the same weird vibe is coming off them, and they make the same pause before assuring her “it’s nothing”, only make her more suspicious about it being not nothing, which it isn’t.

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“It”, in fact, is the very thing Futaba wanted to know: more about Kou. She didn’t know his mom died, and the shrine is what he showed Yuuri (Yuuri later confesses she was glad she knew something about Kou Futaba didn’t). When Futaba learns what it was, she feels like a selfish, awful person for needing everything to be about her feelings. That leads to tears that Kou can’t help but dry, and they come the closest yet to a kiss before Tanaka pops into the kitchen, ruining everything.

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Kou has to go out for his job, so Tanaka takes Futaba home, and getting the feeling she’s someone who wants to know, he’s very generous in filling in some of the blanks in regard to how the present Kou came about from the one she knew, as well as why Kou is cold towards his older brother. Basically, Tanaka was busy teaching his first year of school, leaving the younger Kou alone in the hospital to sit by their mom as she slowly died.

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Kou bore the brunt of the full force of slowly, steadily losing someone he loved before his eyes, while Tanaka only got the odd glance, busy as he was. That experience made Kou who he is today: someone reluctant to make friends; to get too close; to fall in love again. As much as he may care for Futaba, part of him is paralyzed by that fear: that if he tries to care about something again too much, he’ll lose it.

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Futaba has made it pretty clear: she wants to be with him. She lost him once, and doesn’t want to lose him again. She also sees through his cold act to the kindness he’s always had, which Tanaka confirms. Futaba’s challenge is to get him to believe it’s alright to open up and get close again; that happiness is worth some degree of risk. That won’t be easy, especially with a still determined Yuuri also gunning for him.

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Golden Time – 07

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Kouko has to go to the police station to sort out her bike theft, and she introduces Banri as her boyfriend to her father. The next morning, Kouko is waiting for him at the station and they walk to classes together. They start dating, but Banri continually ignores Linda’s texts. His neighbor Nana, Linda’s friend, tricks him into coming home to tend to an apartment leak, but he finds Nana and Linda there. He invites Linda in, where they exchange apologies. Linda explains how they knew each other and why she blamed herself for his fate. Kouko calls him, saying Mitsuo is in trouble.

OMGOMGOMG, Banri and Kouko are a couple…EEEEEEE!..Right? Whoaaa, hold your horses: we’ve been down this road before. We know how it sometimes ends. And as soon as we saw the episode title, “Masquerade”, or suspicions only heightened: could Kouko only be pretending to be in love with Banri? But lest we forget, this is a show where the characters are given ample time to explain their actions and feelings, and at the police station, she convinces us that what she’s feeling is real. And then we’re off to the races. There’s a joyful thrill in watching the two interact as a couple, and Banri really takes to the extremely affectionate, dopey lovey-dovey atmosphere of their nascent relationship. In short, he’s over the moon; stupidly happy, and we’re happy for him.

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This episode did what few contemporary anime dare to do, especially this early in a long run: put two people who like each other together, for which we’re grateful. Things even take a turn for the amorous when Kouko finds Banri’s “box ‘o’ stuff”, culminating in Kouko confessing she wants to lose her virginity in Paris. It’s such a Kouko moment, and for all their interactions, you get the feeling that yes, she is a little weird and perhaps a bit clingy, but neither we nor Banri have a problem with that. Right now, they’re exactly the people they need for each other, and aside from a few subtle foreboding details here and there (Kouko’s dad’s talk of her “targets”, and Banri lying to her about the leak), it looks like it could work. Golden Time resists the urge to immediately pull the rug out from under everything.

That’s despite the fact it meets all the necessary conditions to plausibly blow up Banri+Kouko. Yet it doesn’t pull the trigger—not yet at least—but lets us savor the warm, fuzzy glee. Thanks to Nana (proving to be an excellent supporting character), the awkward silence between Banri and Linda concludes amicably. The tension in that room oozes through the screen as the camera closes in on Linda…but while she’s fiercely honest with details about the past (including Banri confessing to her), she doesn’t end up confessing to him. For one thing, she doesn’t feel she deserves to (remember: she was only late to the bridge, not an out-and-out no-show); but it’s also not crystal clear whether she loves him in quite that way. It’s good she didn’t confess, because she has yet to learn that her previous assumption about Banri dating Kouko is no longer wrong.


Rating: 9 (Superior)

Stray Observations:

  • Mitsuo went to get his head shaved, but ended up getting his hair bleached.
  • Mitsuo can’t face Chinami at the moment, which concerns her, because she didn’t mean to reject him for all time. There’s is still a slight arc, but we hope it goes somewhere. Love for everyone! Except 2D-kun, AMIRITE?
  • Banri could have avoided quite a bit of stress by stashing that box somewhere before answering the door. Although in the end, Kouko didn’t mind it. More adult behavior.
  • We’re not sure how Banri didn’t realize the woman in the elevator was Nana. Still, it was a hilarious scene. 
  • Nana is voiced with authority by Satou Satomi, who was cast against type here (at least from what we’ve watched of her).

Kamisama Dolls 13

Kukuri, singing the song it sung when Kyohei was its seki, saves Hibino and Kyohei and destroys Magatsuhi. Mahiru flees. While unconscious, Kyohei dreams of the past with Aki, Mahiru, and Senou. After he found Aki with a dead Senou, he threatened to kill him with Kukuri, lashing out at anyone who interfered, but without trying, Utao took control of Kukuri from him. He wakes up proclaiming Hibino is his, and Hibino just happened to be by his side. On the roof of the hospital, they kiss, and Hibino tells him not to worry about involving her in his troubles. Utao can no longer move Kukuri. Aki pays him Kyohei a visit, telling him he’s headed to the village, where he and the Elder Hyuga will reawaken the giant monster he defeated in the past. Kyohei takes the challenge.

Oh, wait, what? A second season is forthcoming? Well, ya’know what, that’s okay with me. After all I’ve invested in this excellent cast, I’d hate for it to end so abruptly. Once Magatsuhi was dealt with and everyone was out of danger, this became a much more laid-back, relaxed episode, almost as if it were winding down in preparation for hibernation (I’m unsure whether it will continue airing during the Fall season, or if it won’t be back until next year). That’s fine though. Cliffhangers aren’t mandatory by any means.

For all the trials ahead for our man Kyohei, and despite the fact Mahiru’s kakashi was wasted and Utao lost control of hers, this was also a surprisingly upbeat episode. Kyohei and Aki’s final scene together was awesome; these two can never escape the fact that they’re brothers, any more than they can escape Kurakami. This wasn’t the time for a final duel with tons of shouting; that’s yet to come. And Kyohei and Hibino finally lockin’ lips, with Hibino making the first move? Well, better late than never!


Rating: 3.5

Kamisama Dolls 12

Kuuko springs Aki and frees Hibino. Hirashino corners Kuuko and Hibino, but Kuuko pushes Hibino outside and grapples with Hirashino, killing him with his own gun in a struggle. Hibino is met by Mahiru on the roof, who has a bone to pick with her vis-a-vis Kyohei. She gets carried away and throws Hibino off the roof with Magatsuhi, but Kukuri catches her in the knick of time. Utao and Mahriu have a sustained duel, ending when Kukuri lands a blow that makes Mahiru lose control of her Magatsuhi. Now out of her control, it grabs Hibino again. Kyohei saves Mahiru from its swipe, then rushes to Hibino’s aid, only to be ensnared himself. As it crushes them, he remembers the day he told his parents he’d be leaving the village, then meeting Hibino in school. Entering the battle, Kirio accidentally knocks Kukuri out. The episode ends with Kukuri waking up, but rather than singing Utao’s song, it’s singing Kyohei’s.

Rape threats…gun grappling…seki duels, kakashi group battles…flashbacks…this episode had a little of everything. Once again, Mahiru takes the lion’s share of screen time, and she’s still a horrible selfish brat, but she becomes a little more sympathetic once Utao manages to beat her Magatsuhi. Cornered, beaten by a little kid, she’s an emotional wreck. When she loses control of her Magatsuhi, she panics. As I said, bringing her in so late was a bold move, but I’m still glad it was done; her presence and her feelings for Kyohei help get both Kyohei and Hibino thinking about what they are to one another. It also forces Kyohei to stop trying to escape the village.

I thought a lot more was to be done with the diet member, but his death makes me question what his purpose was. Also, while she’s really fun to watch and listen to, Kuuko is again really only around to kill him and save Hibino. Her only goal at this point is to be involved in all this intrigue – the embedded journalist, as it were. But she did kill a man in the middle of Tokyo – one would think there’ll be consequences. The cliffhanger was well-played: it would seem empty kakashis respond to whichever seki is projecting the strongest emotions, in this case, Kyohei’s. I just hope that after all this soul-searching and exposition, the finale will me more than just another episode of Save Princess Hibino.


Rating: 3.5

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Murphy’s Law is in full force as a crustacean-like elder bairn kills Saya’s entire class, getting cheap shots in as she battles it. When it takes Yuuka, her last close friend, she goes into red-eye mode and viciously slays the beast. Only the class chairman survives, along with Tokizane, who skipped school. After her teacher asks her if she killed everyone, Saya wakes up, numb with loss, but also lost herself; beset by images in her head whenever she tries to remember anything.

So, after establishing a very pleasant, chummy atmosphere at Saya’s high school – a safe haven of sorts – the last few episodes have methodically, mercilessly, and effortlessly torn to gory shreds any sense of security and virtually all solace. All is lost. Saya proves yet again that while she excels at slaying elder bairns, her everyone-protecting skills leave much to be desired. Of course one can hardly blame her; circumstances couldn’t be worse, as the venue is rife with defenseless, horrorstruck students. It doesn’t take much for them to all become corpses or simply piles of miscellaneous pieces in pools of blood. It’s sickeningly visceral, horrible stuff.

It’s also obvious that if we ever get straight answers about who exactly Saya Kisaragi is, what her true role is, who she promised, and why she keeps eating grimauve, it may not be till the bitter end. The series continues to keep its cards close, and despite all the hints the dog is throwing her way, Saya remains extremely confused about her raison d’être. If she is the town’s protector, well, she’s failed. Dozens of people are dead and she couldn’t stop it. At this point, I’d be questioning whether what I’m doing is right or even beneficial too.


Rating: 3.5

Ikoku Meiro no Croisée 8

Yune and Claude stop by the Blanche residence, and Alice takes Yune by the hand and wisks her off. If it was ever in doubt, this episode confirmed that she sees Yune not so much as a human friend, but as a doll-like ideal of a childhood dream she had. It’s pretty odd that this girl made up a story about meeting a Japanese girl, then meeting her by chance years later. Is she an oracle?

In all seriousness though, while she and Yune chatter away about folk tales and rice balls, Claude is just standing around waiting, when he’s cornered by Camille. From a flashback and her general behavior around him, she had an unrequited love for him. The cold way they interact here confirms that they share some complex feelings, not all good. Camille resents her role as a family bargaining chip – she won’t be marrying for love – but she’s resigned to that life.


Rating: 3.5

Kamisama Dolls 6

After lots of excitement in Tokyo, Kamisama Dolls heads to Karakami village this week for some peace, quiet, and convalescence. Kukuri is repaired by the Utsuwashi (kakashi mechanics), we meet some new faces, and Utao’s master confirms to her that Kirio is indeed her younger twin brother. The two were seperated at birth (not literally, they weren’t conjoined twins) and he was raised by the Hyuga.

To make an SAT analogy: Utao : Kirio :: Kyouhei : Aki. Kirio and Aki are bitter that Utao and Kyouhei had easier lives. That bitterness has twisted both of them, but it may not be too late for Kirio. Koushiro seems to want to take care of Kirio, which makes you wonder where he’s been all the years the Hyuga master has beaten him. Also, as HIbino gets more involved with the Kugas, she wants to know what happened with Kyouhei and Aki in the past.

Overall, this is a nice respite, with much lighter fare than previous episodes. This series continues to excel with facial expressions – particularly Utao and Hibino’s faces are extremely emphatic – and quick action animation, as demonstrated with the comedy/fanservice setpiece where Utao tries flying Kukuri with Kyouhei and Hibino riding along. It involves both Kuga siblings pulling on either end of Hibino…meh, I guess you had to see it. :P


Rating: 3.5

Kamisama Dolls 3

Both Kyohei and Aki have pretty similar pasts, but while Aki has chosen to stew in his anger and self-hate, Kyohei wants to move on, and wants a normal life. So did Kyohei kill too? If he did, why is only Aki in jail? In any case, that normal life grows more abnormal by the day. Not only is Aki pestering Kyohei at every turn, he even threatens to kill Hibino. This pisses off Kyohei.

But then another seki named Koushiro shows up with a teleporting kakashi, presumably to drag Aki back to the village. He manages to take him down, but Kuuko of all people is tangled up in the battle, and ends up dragging an unconscious Aki away; perhaps for information later. In any case, I like how Aki isn’t just a one-dimensionally evil guy; he’s clearly had a rough life. Even Kyohei pities him, and buys him some food.

As for lil’ Utao, there was a lot of unnecessary bumbling around at the cafe, but this was redeemed by the actions of yet another seki, who looks a lot like Utao – an older brother, perhaps? He does so by making a truck swerve off an overpass, and Utao deftly uses Kukuri to shield herself, Hibino, and bystanders from the falling truck. She may be a total klutz at waitressing, but when it counts, she’s turning out to be a decent seki. Rating: 3.5

The World God Only Knows II 10

Things aren’t going well with the conquest of Ms. Nagase. He plans to pick up the pace by pissing her off, which basically worked for all previous girls, but all of his tactics prove ineffective. Her strong initiative is constantly throwing him off guard. But when she tries to play PFP with him and airs out what she believes his problem is, he rudely rebukes her, bruising her confidence that is already weakened by the loose soul.

That a loose soul entered her as soon as she returned to her old school turns out not to be mere coincidence: she was the captain of the school’s last powerhouse hoops team, and there was clearly some kind of trauma from a falling out with her team after winning the championship. When Keima tries to learn more about Nagase (and become equals with her) through her senpai and former teammate, Ms. Nikaido, he learns that she’s always been depressed. He may not be able to afford her birthday, e-mail, or BWH, but the basketball hint seems to be enough to get him back on track.

And none too soon; while he was trying to warm up to the cool-as-ice Nikaido, the rest of the student body, who once welcomed Nagase enthusiastically, start ostrasizing her for being too passionate. Again we see that the common bond they share is that of ideals over reality, albeit in different ways. She insists kids should be encouraged to be the best they can be because they all have limitless potential (a fairly American point of view), and doesn’t like teachers breaking the cool, hard facts of life to them.

She wants everyone to have an ideal life, even if they don’t care. By being worn down by both teachers and students baffled by her excessive passion, Keima finally has the opening he needs. All that’s left is for him to make her reveal that past that’s haunting her, learn to see him as a romantic interest, not a student, and pull that nasty ol’ loose soul outta her. Rating: 3.5

[C]: Control: The Money and Soul of Possibility 7

This episode of [C] is reflective. First, we get the story of Mikuni’s past, which to a large degree explains his present methods and motives. His father taught him that when enough money is bound together, it ceases to be money, and becomes power. The lust for this power led his father to abandon a chance to save his own daughter’s life, and he forcably prevented Mikuni from taking action. Before breathing her last, Mikuni’s sister Takako told him to treasure things like “tomorrow, next week, next month, and next year”, because they’re all things she’ll never see.

After her death, he closed himself off, and got a visit from the Midas dude just a bit too late to save his sister. This got him off on the wrong foot with the financial district, and after fighting deals and learning the system, he began to believe Midas was directionless, merely mocking and playing with people’s destinies at will. It was chaos, and with the guild, he sought to bring order. He may have learned a lot from his father, but his father’s success, in effect, cost him his daughter’s life. Mikuni will be damned if he’s going to allow such a thing to happen again. And is it just me, or does Takako vaguely resemble his asset Q?

The second half is all about Mashyu’s adjustment to having Yoga as an entre, their relationship becoming close and oddly human (despite the fact she isn’t human), and realizing why people like Mikuni and Satou want him to lend them his strength. He’s seemingly the only one she sees in the financial district who is so completely unsure about everything, and yet, when he does act, it’s always significant in one way or another. He hesitates because he won’t act unless his heart is sure of it. A nice parallel to this is waving off Mashyu kissing him, because she needs to “like him 30 times more” to be able to kiss him.

While only four episodes now remain in [C], I’m glad the series took the time to paint two rich character narratives this week. Both Mikuni and Mashyu will be far more interesting to watch, judging from the new things we know about them, and we also learned about how Yoga fits into their respective pictures. It’s also a bit chilling when Yoga notices that the Shinjuku skyline is missing skyscrapers: when people lose their future in the district, more than people and power disappears. That just punctuated just how unnervingly, insidious and dangerous Midas can be. Rating: 4