DanMachi II – 01 – May I Have This Dance?

After a four-year pause, DanMachi resumes, starting with Cranel and his party (Lili, Welf, and Mikoto) on thirteenth floor, taking care of business. The baddies are threatening; the action is smooth, slick, and packs a punch. Mikoto is a nice addition with her lightning-quick, multidirectional katana strikes.

While unwinding at the tavern, talking about the future of this party full of members of different Familias, Bell is suddenly verbally accosted by a young pipsqueak, backed up by a group of his friends all wearing the same military uniform: that of the vaunted Apollo Familia.

He says a couple of the wrong things about Hestia, and Bell gets mad, but it’s Welf who stoves in the kids face with a flagon. One of the kids’ much tougher (Level 3) friends quickly rearranges Bell’s face and nearly chokes him to death; he’s “saved” by Bete, complaining about the noise.

Hestia, ever the goddess of warmth and kindness, is proud of Bell for fighting for her name, but impresses upon him how sad she’d be if he got hurt again for her sake (Lili tends to Welf).

The next day, after reporting the fight to Eina, Bell is approached by two Apollo’s children—Daphne and Cassandra, whom I’m sure we’ll see later—who present him with an invitation to a Banquet of the Gods.

Since Hestia and Apollo have a sour history (she rejected his offer of marriage—Poseidon’s too—choosing instead to remain pure), there could well be some unpleasantness, but Hestia is excited nevertheless, in part because she gets to take a child plus-one.

It’s an occasion when everyone gets to show off how nicely they clean up, and while his hair remains stubbornly messy, even Bell looks pretty damn dapper in his tux.

It’s also an effective way of re-introducing all the gods, goddesses, and children after a long hiatus. Still, it’s hard to feel easy at the house of Apollo, the Familia Bell & Co. “disrespected” so recently. You can’t trust a god with children that…sophomoric.

Hestia and Loki snipe at one another as Bell and Ais give each other eyes, but neither has the guts to defy their goddess right in front of them. Even so, Bell lingers a bit as Ais walks away, and once he turns his head, Ais turns back too. Though members of different Familia, particularly those whose gods don’t like each other, don’t often mix, Bell and Ais clearly don’t feel that way.

While out on the balcony, Bell spots the Apollo child who almost killed him talking to someone and gets suspicious, but is saved from locking eyes with him when Hermes shows up and, after hearing Bell explain why he became an adventurer (at least in part to meet cute girls), steers him in the direction of one with whom Bell should dance.

A completely unexpected but utterly delightful dance scene between Bell and Ais ensues, the two looking absolutely killer in their classy duds, but looking even better because of how much goddamn fun they’re having dancing with each other.

I was gradually reminded of a similar dance scene in FFVIII (that was top-notch CGI in 1999!), starting out awkwardly but becoming smoother as the two grew more comfortable. Even if it was shameless bait for AizBell shippers, I don’t care; it was freaking beautiful and I loved every moment of it!

Unfortunately, the episode’s crushing low immediately follows its dizziest high, as Apollo pulls the plug on the pleasantness and reveals his resting crazyface. Yep, he’s one of those…gesugao or whatever…

Previously described as “spiteful”, he demonstrates he’s petty too, calling Bell and Hestia out for the bar fight his children started, then using it as a transparent excuse to challenge Hestia to a “War Game” between their Familias. And if he wins, he’s claiming Bell.

And there you have it: one of the littlest Familias (but sporting the biggest heart in that of Hestia) going up against one of the biggest, most powerful and militaristic. Assuming allowing outside help (like Ais, for instance) is forbidden, Hestia, Bell and Lili will surely have their work cut out for them!

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Zero kara Hajimeru Mahou no Sho – 03

This week the party of Mercenary, Zero and Albus arrive in the bustling trading town of Formicum. Zero reports to the guards at the gate that she and Albus are Merc’s sex slaves, and they’re allowed to pass at half cost…though it could be argued you can’t put a price on Merc’s reputation.

Once there, Zero shows Merc some gems, and he tells her she only needs one small one to buy a fine set of new threads, which she does. I like the look, even if the clothes are a bit baggy on her. Zero also shows off her utter lack of modesty by trying to change in front of men and women alike. That’s so Zero!

Once they’re settled in…at an inn, Merc tries to sneak out but Zero spots him and they go out drinking, only to re-encounter another Beastfallen who has three captive girls who Zero knows are not witches. So Merc enters and wins a duel with the wolf-man and the girls are freed.

The sprightly dialogue between Merc and Zero continues to entertain, and it’s always fun to watch Merc take down a baddie. But as Merc’s defeat is never remotely in doubt, the whole episode lacks any kind of serious stakes. Still, it’s a pleasant enough watch for an overcast Monday afternoon.

Glasslip – 07

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This week Glasslip really showed us something. It showed it could capitalize on built-up inertia to progress relationships along without making too big a deal about it. It showed it was just as ready and able to jeopardize those same budding relationships at the turn of a hat.

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It also notably delved further into the mixed-up, supernatural phenomena Kakeru and Touko are experiencing, as well as showing us Kakeru has two other Kakerus talking to him inside his head. Hell, it wouldn’t be the first time a couple met through mutual psychoses.

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The episode picks up right where it left off, with Touko and Kakeru having a moment, and the camera nicely reveals they’re holding hands. Touko wants to let it ride, and comes up with the idea to go to the beach with him as soon as possible. She’s also calling him by his first name without hesitation, another subtle but effective sign this is going somewhere.

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Speaking of not hesitating, Sachi is similarly forthright when her mom asks who Hiro is. Duh, he’s her boyfriend…just like that. My tear ducts activated at that. No beating around the bush…likely because there isn’t time. Watching their tender romance bloom in what is increasingly looking like the twilight of her life is a beautiful as it is heartbreaking.

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Even worse is how it all comes crashing to earth when Hiro discovers Sachi used him to try to undermine Kakeru, motivated purely by hate. Sachi isn’t wrong that Kakeru showing up has left the group scattered, but I think that was bound to happen anyway, seeing as how Yuki would still like Touko even if Kakeru weren’t around.

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Sachi looked ashamed as she confessed this to Hiro, but she also looked desperate; the opportunity presented itself, and she really didn’t know what else to do. Again, time seems to be a factor for her, which is what makes a disappointed Hiro abruptly leaving her hospital room all the more heartrending.

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Ah, but I haven’t even gotten to Yana and Yuki yet! This episode was packed with developments. Yana seems relatively happy that Touko and Kakeru are getting on so well, but the fact remains that Yuki is an emotional mess. He (probably wisely) puts his energy into rehabilitation, and that’s when we get an unexpected taste of Hina’s world.

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“Attractive” and “unattractive” are used in several different ways. Hina’s peers just think Yuki is the dreamiest. Touko concurs. But the part of him that’s become “unattractive” is the think both Yana and Sachi blame Kakeru for. Hina chases down Yuki on her bike, pleading with him to stay “attractive.” At first I thought that meant “wait for me to get older ‘cuz I like you”, but that might not be it.

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The fact she also roots for Yana complicates matters. On that storyline we’re eager for more info. Ditto Touko’s ability, which is showing her such strange things it may not be mere future flashes after all. She sees Kakeru fall…could that be one of the three of him? When Yana gives a back-handed compliment, crows pour out of her shadow. Crows! This is strange but very intriguing stuff.

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