Fune wo Amu – 07

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After another scene illustrating how hemmed-in Nishioka feels, having to force his girlfriend to walk far ahead of him on the way to work, and decline the squid ink paella place lest they be seen there together, we get into the nitty-gritty of manuscript editing.

Matumoto proudly listens as Nishioka and Majime work like a two-part well-oiled machine as they sift through Professor Oda’s extraneous verbiage and cut to the core of what a certain Great Passage word definition should consist of and why.

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It’s just a shame they only have one more month together. This is a show that seems to shift between Majime and Nishioka; the former too often a prisoner within himself, the latter too often a prisoner to outside forces, like the ones that enabled the Passage to survive.

But while Majime is sad to see Nishioka go, as Nishioka seems sad to be leaving something he felt at the time was very important, they’re still pulling for each other in the future, even if that immediate future doesn’t involve working together.

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We simply don’t see any of the aftermath of Majime and Kaguya connecting; only the indication that things are moving along fine, with Majime going to Apricot to sample the first dinner she has full control over; essentially to support her on her next step on the long road to realizing her goals.

Nishioka has a nice girlfriend in Remi, but definitely seems to dislike how careful they have to be in public (not sure why this is, so I’m assuming it’s company policy). It’s nice to see their domestic scenes together as a contrast to the distance they must flub when out in the world, but it can’t go on this way if Nishioka is to be truly happy.

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When Professor Oda calls Nishioka in to bitch at him about the extreme editing to his manuscript Majime has done, as well as to complain about the lateness of his transfer announcement, Nishioka turns up the charm, flattering Oda by saying most other writers need far more editing than he.

It’s when Oda tries to get Nishioka to kneel down in apology to him that Nishioka finally demurs. He feels such grovelling beneath the noble builders of The Great Passage, and instead essentially blackmails Oda with his knowledge of his young student mistress.

With Oda back under control, Nishioka goes a little further, rebelling against the same structures that give weight to his threats against Oda by texting Remi to meet him for dinner at the squid ink paella place. Appearances be damned: he’s going to live and enjoy himself.

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Fune wo Amu – 06

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Majime barely seems to sleep through a night when he’s waiting for Kaguya to reply to his letter, but early in the morning when they finally meet in the hall, he runs away, scared of rejection. If she has bad news for him, he doesn’t want to hear it.

For Nishioka, the time to announce his impending departure from the department comes at an awkward time, but his hand is forced when the elders take stock of the group’s difficulties but looks to the first modern Japanese dictionary, the Genkai, for inspiration, knowing the five of them can do it. Nishioka makes sure they understand it’s four, not five now.

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When Majime hears of this, and of all the extra work not suited for him he may have to take on in Nishioka’s absence, he has a little bit of a freakout, as the pleasant dusk turns dark and foreboding, waves lap at his feet, then solidify into a thick mud into which he slowly descends. All of a sudden he’s become overwhelmed with doubt in both love and life.

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That night, at the boarding house, he goes into the library, a lovely cozy space positively packed with books, to both calm and steel himself. He finds the house copy of the Genkai, and finds an archaic word for chef (translated as “kitchener”).

He realizes a dictionary’s value, like the words within it, change with time. The Genkai is now a repository of Japanese linguistic history. He re-asserts his determination to complete The Great Passage, come hell or high mud.

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He also gains the confidence to ask Kaguya, who has just come home, for an answer to his love letter. Kaguya is caught off guard by his use of that term, and runs up to her room.

Majime is almost certain this means rejection, but it’s the opposite: she merely wanted to read it again, certain that it was a love letter (she wasn’t sure before). In truth, she has feelings for him too.

I loved the subtlety of her motions and the quietness and warmth of this scene. We’ll see how the happy couple proceeds from here.

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Fune wo Amu – 05

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Majime decides to take the next step with Kaguya the best way he knows how: with words. Lots of them. He asks Nishioka to look the thick missive over, and Nishioka is initially weary of the stiffness of its contents. Of course, Nishioka is also waiting for the other shoe to drop on the mischief he’s perpetrated on behalf of the Dictionary Editorial department and The Great Passage.

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His punishment turns out to be a transfer to the PR department (where he originally wanted to go when he started out) and the adding of a starter dictionary revision to the department’s already formidable workload. He lets the others know about the latter price, but holds off on telling them he’ll be leaving them in the Spring. Better to let them work, and get excited about their sample pages.

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After a long day of reassuring professors (and possibly some drinking as well), Nishioka returns home to his girlfriend Miyoshi, who works in the PR department he’s transferring to, and who made a rare phone call to him in the middle of the day to check up on him, reinforcing her role as Nishioka’s rock. No matter what becomes of him at the company, it feels like he’ll be okay as long as he has her. And she seems heartened by his determination to do everything he can for his colleagues before he has to go.

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As for Majime’s love letter, Nishioka actually seems to get pretty absorbed in it—that is, the parts that he can understand; there’s some Chinese poetry in there. He gives it the okay, so Majime waits by the boarding house’s genkan for Kaguya to come home from work, then delivers the document containing all his feelings to her personally. We’ll see where this goes.

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Valvrave the Liberator – 24 (Fin)

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New JIOR’s plan PR falters when the Council leans on the media to report their stunt as a hoax. Cain sorties and defeats X-eins. Haruto body-jacks L-elf and defeats Cain, but loses all his runes in the process and dies. The Royalists begin a coup of Dorssia, and ARUS takes advantage to rid themselves of the Magius, leading to a long, bloody struggle. In the future, a new Galactic Empire thrives based on peaceful interaction with extra-terrestrials like the Magius.

Since he never showed up in any of the future cold opens, and due to the amount of memories he’d lost in all the fighting, we were fairly certain Haruto wouldn’t survive the final battle. When he first his the “Yes” button to “resigning his humanity”, it didn’t (just) mean turning into a rune-sucking monster. Most humans, after all, do whatever they can to survive. He and the other Valvraves, on the other hand, were given eternal life and the choice to give it all up fighting for the survival of others, which meant laying down his life. Of course, even had he gone after Cain with everything he had (and everything he was), he probably still wouldn’t have beaten him without L-elf by his side.

We reach end of the Valvrave saga a little disappointed. The finale had some moving moments, the episode felt rushed, and the epilogue was a little paltry after so much epic struggle: Satomi and Takahi get married, Saki and Akira are teachers of some sort, and all the fallen heroes from the past get…cheesy marble busts all crowded together in a musty room. Between Cain’s defeat and the good future, we’re a little fuzzy on how the world achieved the peace they enjoy. The final shot of Unit 1’s cockpit was a bit on the preachy side, trying to tidily sum up the moral of the show. Trust alone isn’t enough to garner peace. Humans will always harbor secrets; how they’re unveiled affects the course of history.


Rating: 6 (Good)
Final Cumulative Rating: 7.333
MyAnimeList Score (as of 12/27/13): 7.74

Valvrave the Liberator – 23

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Haruto, Rukino, Yamada and Akira return to the rocketship, where Shoko thanks them but confines them to the hangar. Posing as an injured pilot, L-elf infiltrates Dorssian forces; A-drei and X-eins share his goals to eliminate Cain and his allies. As the Dorssian Fuhrer holds a speech on a heavily-defended Module 77, the Valvraves launch a seemingly desperate attack. Haruto loses more memories of Shoko but fights on as he promised Rukino. Yamada is killed by Q-vier while defending Akira, and she’s able to hack the comms network so the Council can’t cut the feed when L-elf appears on stage, slits the Fuhrer’s throat, and the world watches the wound heal, exposing his inhumanity.

In case you missed it (you probably didn’t): what’s left of New JIOR continues to owe its very existence to the efforts of L-elf, who springs back into action, dons his old gaudy uniform, yells “LIGHTNING SWORD!”, and fights alongside his old comrades, all doing their part to “unveil the world.” It’s a triumphant turnaround to be sure after the abject despair of two weeks ago. That being said, the important victory achieved this week was a full team effort. L-elf was aided by comrades on both sides. Haruto Valvrave pilots were resolved to fight to the bitter end even if their own people hated them, while Cain’s villainy had simply gotten to be too much for A-drei and X-eins, and Kriemhild.

It’s also an episode of brave faces: Haruto’s, Shoko’s, and L-elf’s. They put them on not just for their friends and allies, but for themselves, to get through what must be gotten through. These three simply cannot give up. Of course, all the resolve and bravery in the world (ahem, Yamada, RIP) won’t save you if you don’t have a decent plan for victory: enter L-elf once more, turning the tables in the P.R. battle. The people may not yet trust JIOR, but they now know they can’t trust anyone. The people still have to be convinced they can trust the Valvraves, while the Council must still be brought low, and Cain hasn’t even entered the fray in honest yet. There’s an awful lot to do in the final episode, much like last season.

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Rating: 8 
(Great)

Valvrave the Liberator – 21

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After the Dorssian Fuhrer reveals Rukino Saki’s immortality, he cuts to live footage of a reporter entering the hold of the Phantom and finding the humans being drained of runes, among them Iori’s father. The ARUS president declares all New JIORans dangerous lifeforms, and his soldiers commence the wholesale execution the students. He and the Furher also form a Dorssio-ARUS alliance, vowing to stamp out JIOR. The Valvraves scramble to cover the survivors’ escape, but students led by Iori trick Haruto and hand him and L-elf over in exchange for leniency. ARUS immediately double-crosses them, but Inuzuka shields them until they’re able to launch, and rescues Haruto and L-elf before dying in a blaze of glory.

It’s a near total defeat for the fledgling nation of New JIOR, as we see what happens when they play with fire and depend on such a small and fragile force to defend them. For all the weapons brought to bear on either side, and weapons they’ve endured, the ultimate weapon of their downfall turned out to be…PR. The instant wide-ranging media access meant to gather other nations to their cause was turned against them by the Council, a force far more skilled and experienced in its manipulation. Even if Shouko knew what the hell was going on, no one has the patience to hear any more explanations, as painfully demonstrated when a JIOR student comes forward to calmly explain – and gets a bullet in the head for his trouble. The bloody, merciless purge of unarmed, mortal students that follows is truly gut-wrenching and difficult to watch.

The show fixes an unblinking eye on the carnage, as classrooms are sprayed with bullets and terrified, cowering students are mowed down. As they’re being slaughtered like sheep, they turn on their once-saviors, and you really can’t blame them. For all the Valvraves’ heroics, they dug the graves of their countrymen by keeping them in the dark about so many important, dangerous things for too long. The truth didn’t kill them; being protected from the truth did. As we saw, an international summit on live TV was not the ideal time for Shouko or the world to learn such things. Now Shouko has turned away from Haruto, not knowing who he is anymore, while Haruto’s memories are literally shattering; L-elf is useless, Inuzuka is dead (in heroic fashion), Rukino is still imprisoned; and all of humanity have united against what’s left of New JIOR. They’ve never been more down, but they’re not out. Nothing is out of the question where this show is concerned.

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Rating: 8 
(Great)

Kami-sama no Memo-cho 7

This week was a very talky episode, but a lot was revealed about Sou and Renji’s past, and the question floated: what’s more important, friendship or truth? Narumi is running every which way, carefully extracting tidbits of information, risking dire bodily harm, and trying to piece together exactly what their beef is, and why Renji wants to destroy Sou so badly. All this while checking in intermittently with Alice and arranging all the PR for Mika’s upcoming concert, which hasn’t been cancelled.

Turns out they used to live together with a third roommate, an illegal immigrant named Hison. They both loved and protected her – you could say she was the glue that held them together – but she was no saint herself, working at the bar of a rival gang, and was its leader’s mistress. When the leader’s wife found out, she ordered her killed – even though she was with child. Sou tried to stop it, but couldn’t. These very crucial blanks were filled in by none other than one of Hiro’s conquests, an eyewitness to the incident.

All these years, Sou has been content to keep the truth buried, and loathed anyone digging into it. Renji believed Sou used Hison as a human shield, knowing nothing about the mistress or pregnancy angle. Renji has a gang of misfits working for him and many years of rage for Sou stewing. But whether he think Renji killed her or simply didn’t stop her from being killed, it will be hard to dissuade him from his vengence. In fact, in the episode’s cliffhanger (long arc, this), Narumi gets the message that “Sou is down”, signalling that it may be too late for peace negotiations – the war may have already begun.


Rating: 3.5

Kami-sama no Memo-cho 5

There are two pairs of series this season we could classify as “Cutesy” or “Heartwarmy”: those are Ikoku Meiro no Croisée and Usagi Drop. There are also a pair of series we could classify as “Lolitective”: Dantalian no Shoka, and this. Despite these similarities, the two pairs are very different, and each have their own appeal. While GAINAX’s lolitective keeps its cast and world quite small and simple, Memo-cho is pretty much the opposite: huge cast with a solid core; huge city full of even more people, organizations, and goings-on.

We’ve touched on the similarities between Dalian and Alice. Both look down on their “squires” (Huey and Narumi, respectively), both speak and think above their weight level, both have their “cutesy” childish sides (both love sugar, Alice loves teddies), and both harbor an admiration and affection for their squires, despite their outward attitudes. This week, Narumi is away from her on business for Soiuchiro, Alice grows wary, and she betrays a little more of that affection, as well as her practical dependence on Narumi. Early in the episode she insists he isn’t her assistant; but she later contradicts that when her armor is down.

But Alice doesn’t just need her stuffed animals laundered and Dr. Peppers opened. Narumi’s presence, and the chores he does for her, help to keep Alice focused, and at the top of her game. Narumi’s duties to the fourth interrupt that somewhat, and she must adapt to his extendend absences. Regarding Narumi, he and Ayaka dive head-first into the world of girl J-rock band PR, darting around the city setting things up. Narumi is a hardworking, friendly and personable dude, so I can see why Soichirou recruited him to do it.

Naturally, there’s a seedy underbelly to this venture, as the band was once promoted by a rival gang, who may make things difficult for Narumi and Soichirou. We’ll find out if and how next week. Narumi also meets a new friend, a crazy-haired chap named Renji, whom he saves from beating up some thugs in a bar, then buys him some clothes. He’s back in Tokyo after three years, and apparently has ties to Hirasaka group. He’s also so good at fighting he’s sworn off using his fists. I’m sure he’ll be put to good use soon.


Rating: 3.5