Jujutsu Kaisen – 02 – Choose Your Hell

Fushiguro is about to summarily execute Yuuji, only for Yuuji to wrest control of his body back from Sukuna. Fushiguro’s teacher Gojou Satoru arrives to take control of the situation, and asks Yuuji to switch to Sukuna Mode for ten seconds. During that time, Gojou (the self-proclaimed “strongest” sorcerer) is able to easily keep up with Sukuna!Yuuji, and when time is up Yuuji reliably regains control.

That tells Gojou that all is not immediately lost for Yuuji. When Fushiguro asks him to find a solution that doesn’t involve immediate execution, Gojou finds one: rather than die now, Yuuji has the choice to track down and absorb all twenty of Sukuna’s fingers (he had four arms), then be executed along with Sukuna forever.

Gojou gives Yuuji the day to think about it. He visits Iguchi in the hospital, who’ll be fine once healed by a sorcerer, and assures Sasaki what happened wasn’t her fault. He then must oversee his grandfather’s cremation, and gathers the ash and bone fragments into an urn. As Gojou warns, that solemn task is a cakewalk compared to the shit he’d get up to if he agreed to become a Jujutsu sorcerer.

Now that Yuuji is aware of the threat of Sukuna he can’t stand by, or ignore his gramps’ dying request, so he’s in. He eats a second finger Gojou gives him without incident, and they head to the picturesque Tokyo Metropolitan Jujutsu Technical High School, located on the woodsy outskirts of the metropolis.

Yuuji learns that while he can still control his mind and body fine, Sukuna still “leaks out” from time to time in the form of a mouth that can emerge anywhere from Yuuji’s body to make some snide or rueful remark. Gojou then tells Yuuji he’s to meet with Principal Yaga, who will decide if he’s Jujutsu Tech material.

Yaga immediately throws Yuuji off by sewing cute plush dolls when they meet, but the principal can infuse his Curse into the dolls and use them as weapons—which is exactly what he does while asking Yuuji why he wants to enroll. As the kappa doll beats him up, Yaga makes him realize that “because by gramps said so” isn’t enough: it’s because Yuuji is the only one who can absorb Sukuna and survive.

One Yuuji realizes this himself (and pins the kappa), Yaga passes him, and has Gojou show him to his spacious dorm room. Yuuji learns Fushiguro Megumi is his next-door neighbor, and along with an incoming female student, the three of them are the only first-years at Jujutsu Tech.

In addition to being the vessel for Sukuna, Yuuji also serves as a Sukuna Radar. That said, some fingers will put up tougher fights than others, especially those that have already been absorbed by other Curses. No doubt he’ll be relying not just on his fellow first-years (the third of whom we’ll meet next), but the upperclassmen and faculty like Gojou.

Rating: 4/5 Stars

Kaguya-sama: Love is War 2 – 12 (Fin) – Adjusted for Inflation

After the thrilling but nearly completely comedy-free Ishigami Sports Festival denouement, Love is War returns to its bread-and-butter with a relatively understated slice-of-life, life-goes-on finale. We get two stories, the first of which is by far the most emotionally engaging.

The Principal wants to snap photos of the StuCo, but Shinomiya family policy forbids Kaguya’s face from being distributed in any media, so she sits out the shoot. The Principal quickly pulls Miko out of her shell, but gets on Kaguya’s bad side when he pairs Miyuki and Chika as a dating pair.

While Kaguya once looked down on other girls who took pics with their phones, she’s nevertheless come to enjoy documenting her life with the StuCo on her antiquated flip phone (full disclosure: my landlord still has one, and she’s not planning on giving it up anytime soon!).

When the other members insist on including her on a private rooftop shoot, her phone falls off the roof during the exchange with the principal, and it is destroyed, along with all of the data (since it’s not only old, but a weird proprietary phone with no SD storage).

Crestfallen, Kaguya and Ai head to the store to buy the latest smartphone, but she’s thoroughly down that all of her precious memories were lost. The rest of the StuCo picks up on that, so Miyuki finally starts a StuCo LINE group with a shared cloud album, having held off until Kaguya got a smartphone, not wanting to leave her out. Suddenly, her phone, so sad and lonely when new and empty, starts to burst with brilliant 4K HDR photos of the StuCo’s hijinx.

This also serves as a curtain call for some of the most indelible images from this marvelous season. Kaguya’s blank look of quiet despair becomes a gleaming smile, and the five StuCo members pose for another group photo. Needless to say, Kaguya wins, having lost a low-res flip-phone album but gained a much more comprehensive hi-res one.

The majority of final segment feels like a stakes-free epilogue that could also have aired at any point this season. It makes a point to demonstrate that despite all the development these characters have gone through, they can still fall into their old habits, whether it’s Miyuki worried about Kaguya saying “How Cute” to Yuu losing his nerve.

The premise is easy enough, and starts out as a very direct double entendre involving pumping. Chika has a big balloon leftover from the sports fest, and pulls everyone into an increasingly stressful game in which each player must pump at least once, but if the balloon bursts, they lose. Chika actually gets poor obedient kohai Miko to pump the most, but lets her stop before it bursts.

This leaves Miyuki and Kaguya as the last two to pump, and they too survive, but when Chika gets a drop of tangerine juice on the paper-thin rubber, a cataclysmic explosion occurs that destroys the entire academy. As the credits zoom horizontally from right-to-left (a la Chihayafuru), both Kaguya and Miyuki, who survived the blast, are determined to get the other to take their hand.

What sets this interaction apart from so many past ones is that for once their wavelengths are perfectly aligned and they each get what they wanted, which was to hold the other’s hand without saving face or enduring mockery. It’s the perfect way to wrap up this momentous second season, while creating hope for a third one.

Still, I’d be very surprised (and delighted!) if a potential third episode surpassed this second, which goes down as one of the best second seasons of anime ever. MAL has it at #22 all time, and I think that’s a little low. I’ve savored every minute, and now that it’s over for now I shall miss it dearly!

My Hero Academia – 13 (Fin)

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Sorry My Hero Academia, but I’m breaking up with you. But take solace in the fact it’s not you, it’s me. Okay, maybe it’s a little bit you.

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There is definitely an audience for this kind of shounen hero anime, and I’m not here to look down on anyone who has had an absolute gas watching MHA and can’t wait for the second season.

I myself enjoyed it quite a bit, and there were some truly inspired moments I don’t regret not missing.

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But my enthusiasm for MHA, and for following the show for a second season, has steadily plummeted throughout the season-closing USJ arc.

Once the pace slowed to a crawl and every last movement started to be pored over monologue, the jumbled, clunky aesthetic that had charmed me earlier in the show’s run started to become a liability.

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I totally get the notion that the villains were dumb to give the students so much battle experience, thus making them realize how much more they have to learn, and getting that much more motivated to become great heroes.

While it was a real battle and not training, it still feltlike training, because no matter how many threats Generic Villain #5 or Poorly-drawn Baddie #6 dished out, in the end they never felt like more than half-baked stepping stones in Deku & Co.’s academia.

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The show also failed to show any guts by killing off or even exposing an All Might who, let’s face it, shouldn’t have even stayed in his chunky form as long as he did at the end of the battle.

It would have been tragic for Deku to have lost his idol and mentor so soon, but it would also have meant a definite passing of the torch to Deku, who with the help of his friends (and frenemy) would have to learn to move forward with the gifts Might gave him.

It could have been the most devastating yet motivating lessons for Deku to learn in this season. Instead, All Might’s still around, and thanks to more magic healing by Recovery Girl Deku is quickly on the mend again.

Both visually and thematically, the show’s still got kids gloves on, and is too in love with keeping bigger things looming mysteriously on the horizon, at the cost of stakes in the present. So yeah, MHA. It’s been real. There were some good times. Take care of yourself!

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My Hero Academia – 11

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I’m not going to complain this week: this episode kept bringing the action, more awesome hero combinations, clever applications of their powers, some genuine dread of defeat, and a moment of righteous victory. Plus, a briefly-topless Momo!

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After their big combo play last week, Midoriya, Asui and Mineta mostly hang back and watch with horror as Aizawa is smashed by the “anti-All Might”, Nomu, whose exposed brain you’d think would be a pretty serious weak spot.

It’s pretty intense what the touch of hand-man Shigaraki Tomura does to Aizawa’s arm, and Kurogiri exposes Thirteen’s lack of fighting experience by opening another warp gate behind him, making him susceptible to his own shop-vac quirk.

He and Aizawa have bought the students time, but it’s all for naught if no one can get word to reinforcement heroes. So Iida has to get the hell out of USJ, and without his teachers’ help.

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One by one, students in Iida’s path help him out with their quirks, including Ochako lifting Kurogiri off the ground by touching the only physical part of him. It’s quite satisfying when Iida bursts through those doors. He’s not running away: he’s running to save everyone.

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Midoriya & Co. stick around Tomura and Nomu too long, as it’s not long before he realizes they’re there and attacks them. Before that, Mineta executes a shameless Asui boob-grab, which actually turns her dead eyes white, but doesn’t awaken any other powers.

No, in this pinch, Midoriya has to put his body on the line to save Asui and Mineta, which means using (instert American place name here) Smash on Tomura. But not only does his arm not break, the punch does nothing, as Nomu came in to block at the last moment.

It’s bad news if Nomu can’t be beaten by Midoriya, because that probably means even when All Might arrives (to the elation of all the students), he won’t be able to beat Nomu either. Not alone, and not in the short amount of time before he turns back into Heroin Might.

The answer, it would seem, is to fight one anti-All Might with two All Mights. AM and Midoriya’s first joint battle? Maybe more heroes joining the fray? We shall see.

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My Hero Academia – 10

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Aizawa shows his students what he can do when pitted against far superior numbers of villains, shutting down the quirks of those form long range and beating up those up close. But he lets the most concerning villain, who has an amorphous body of black mist, outflank him, surround the kids, and warp them in groups to various areas of USJ…which is just the thing if you want to show how those various groups of kids combine their quirks to defeat the baddies.

Midoriya ends up saved from being eaten by various water-strong villains by Tsuyu, who, as we know, is basically a human-frog hybrid. His trio is rounded out by Mineta. Both Tsuyu and Mineta in particular have very goofy and unattractive (IMO) character designs, and Mineta’s constant whining doesn’t help matters.

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That being said, the three manage to overpower the water villains surrounding their rapidly sinking ship when Midoriya uses One for All from just two fingers to create a giant whirlpool, while Mineta’s sticky balls gather all the villains up together in a bigger, helpless ball. Tsuyu performs the role of keeping Mineta and Midoriya out of the vortex with her long tongue and leaping ability.

All in all it’s a neat little vignette that shows the teamwork that’s possible if one forgets about how scared one is and stops and thinks about how to use the quirks at hand. But like I said, I’m just not the biggest fan of Midoriya’s two teammates, who look like crudely-drawn caricatures next to Midoriya.

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As for All Might, whom all the villains want to kill and are trying to use the kids to get to, he ends up chilling in the teacher’s lounge with UA High’s principal, who is some kind of inconclusive anthropomorphic mammal named Nezu, to which I can’t help asking…why?

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Bakuon!! – 08

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Its christmas on Bakoun is a remarkably bike-lite affair. Sure, the girls ride everywhere from start to finish, but the motorcycle-splanation is mostly contained by the first act, where Hijiri gets her first taste of non-sidecar cycling.

And honestly, focusing on the girls and their warm friendships during the cold winter season sits just fine with me. In many ways, underplaying the bikes and over playing how unnecessary they are — how unpleasant it is to start them in the cold or to ride them in cold wind — only emphasized how close our 4 ladies (and 1 ghost) have become over the last 8 episodes.

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In act 1, Hijiri puts her life on the line to ride the world’s best selling bike, a simple Honda. It’s a slow, simple and rugged bike that gives workers the world over the affordable flexibly to move people and material. And since Hijiri is so green (she doesn’t even ride bicycles!) the little Honda’s durability is put to the test, crash after crash after crash.

At one point, Hijiri is so angry she gets a giant sledgehammer and goes to town, only to have the bike start anyway. It’s a cute scene, and I took it as a play on the reliability of friendship central to the riding club.

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Act 2 happens around the club’s christmas party/gift exchange. Rin and Hane take center stage, with Rin being called away by her pizza delivery work and Hane being the glue of the club dressing up as santa to deliver Rin a present. Jesus also makes an appearance.

Act 3 pushes new years into the mix and ends with a frozen dash to see the first sunrise. It too is Hane focused, but this time her luck is all wrong: she’s cold and the hand warmer has failed and she lags behind the pack.

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Verdict: I smiled at the puns, I basked in the friendship, I enjoyed the monster skull on Hijiri’s silly bike. Nothing spectacular happened but it was a solid, pleasant romp with the girls — and there was no exploitation to be seen.

Having gone back and rewatched the last 2 weeks that I missed, I have to say if you missed them, you didn’t miss much. (it was a 2 part school festival arc focused on the club’s costumed bike race) By far, this was much worthier of my time.

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Bakuon!! – 05

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This week’s Bakoun is simple enough – the girls come to the northern end of Hokkaido and accidentally meet their recently-dumped sensei, who tries to commit suicide and, failing that, rape them. Later, the girls ride back to the ferry and lament their time on the island is over.

Along the way, Rin shows us that she is pure of heart and won’t run over the red foxes, even if they deserve it. Also, Frizzy-chan is remarkably insightful, even if her lines are corny.

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Then the girls put on bikinis and sexy-wash their bikes for the episode’s final five minutes in the most WTF pandering moment imaginable. Roll Credits…

If you can pretend the final scene didn’t happen, episode 5 has a lot of heart. Rin hanging back to balls-out test her max speed, only to be thwarted by the foxes in the road, only to be reminded of her humanity by Jesus’ holy cup, all had an honest feel to it. Almost a moral message, even.

But that final scene…what the heck? Watching Hane sploosh soap on her breasts so she can deep grind her bike clean, foam billowing up her crotch – and then having Rin do the same? Really??

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Sure, It was funny in a totally awkward way but man, following such a sweet, heartfelt story about girls on the road, the ending cheapens the whole thing. Roll in the totally weird attempted rape scene by their teacher halfway through and I don’t know what to think.

Yeesh Bakoun, you can be really funny without sexualizing your characters, you know? smh

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Bakuon!! – 04

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For summer break, the girls decide to tour Hokkaido. Why Hokkaido? Well… Rin was there a long time ago with her dad and had quite an experience. They wrecked while trying to avoid foxes on the road, her dad got parasites from the foxes and she was sent home alone on a train.

For some reason this realization doesn’t dissuade Bakuon’s girls and so they set in for a long ride and a string of misadventures. By the end, their relationships are a bit closer. Also, Hane finds Jesus.

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This week’s theme is fathers. Sorta. Rin’s father obviously features heavily and his hilariously terrible parenting is repeatedly on display. In addition to their terrible Hokkaido trip of old, we later learn that he jack-knifed Rin into the air and she landed on the hood of a car… only to be BRANDED with a Sazuki logo on her butt.

Speaking of butts, Hijiri’s butler is like a father too. He gives her sage (and wacky) advice about Ducati bikes having souls, which apparently makes them terrible self-destructive things. They also share a tender moment where he fears his days are coming to an end — that they will end when his bike next breaks down — only for it to immediately break down. Continuing to smile, they wait for the family’s ever present helicopter to fly in a replacement and act as if nothing has happened.

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And father of all fathers, a Jesus of sorts makes an appearance. While Onsa and Rin leave Hane behind, and her gas tank is nearly empty, there he is by the road. She shares what little gas she has and they creep to a gas station and he tells her about Bikes in the old testament.

Then he teleports her ahead of the other girls. A ferry ride to Hokkaido finally ensues and the adventure ends with a glorious dip in hot springs. Roll credits!

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This was, by far, the funniest episode so far. The details were great: Rin’s uniquely terrible life shames, the fact the Suzuki logo was put on the car backwards, Lime wearing a helmet in the bath, the weird ‘masks’ the various NPCs wear for no reason, the X-Ray to reveal a bike under an old painting, and the reveal of the fox parasites!

More than funny though, the episode had heart. The various relationships, be it rivalry or love, all grew and they all had fun in the process.

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Bakuon!! – 03

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Now that she has a license, Hane needs a bike—and she knows what she wants: A Honda Su-Four. Despite Onsa warning her that owning a Honda is like being with one man for life (which Hane doesn’t see a problem with), it’s the bike she learned on, and it’s what she wants. And since it’s her yen, and the dealership has a nice pink one, a Honda Su-Four is what she gets!

The twist is that the dealership Hane visits first happens to be run by Onsa’s father. It’s not exactly above-board, what with drowned bikes and reset odometers, but Onsa is determined not to let her dad shove a lemon on her friend, so she does the servicing herself under Lime’s watchful eye.

The beautiful moment Hane mounts her lovely pink steed, the world goes all black-and-white and she is compelled to hit that tasty looking road. Unfortunately, there’s almost no gas in that steed and she ends up stranded. But still, that first ride looked really fun.

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Now that Hane has her license and bike, she starts going on rides with the rest of the bike club, which for now is just her, Onsa, Lime and Hijiri (and her chauffeur). They make it easier to communicate with headsets Hijiri installs in their helmets. But Rin snatches her helmet away before Hijiri can finish, so she can only send, not receive.

This results in a hilarious scene where Rin, understandably thinking no one is listening because she’s riding alone, starts singing a girly Katana song, and when she spots Onsa, launches missiles at her (i.e. flashes her headlight).

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Surrounding this episode is Rin’s reluctance to join the bike club, even though, let’s be honest, she really wants to. Her and Onsa have some complex moments, first with Onsa in tears of shame at the state of her father’s place of business (while conceding it’s put food in her and her brothers’ mouths), and here with her headset leverage over Rin.

But while they go at each other consistently, there’s still an underlying warmth, and obviously their shared passion for riding that links them, which is why Rin agrees to pose in a group photo—as long as her Katana is center stage.

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The final third deals with the fact the faculty of the school has found out about an unofficial, illegal bike club (though girls riding bikes, or helicopters in Hijiri’s case) aren’t prohibited. This leads to a stunning reveal when the principal meets with Lime and calls her senpai—clearly Lime is not a high schooler and hasn’t been for some time.

We flash back to when the Bike Club was official and the principal was one of the mechanics working on Lime’s bike in a race. One of her friends forgot a screw, so Lime’s bike blew up before the finish line, teaching the future principal a valuable lesson: don’t employ high school girls as motorcycle race mechanics. That being said, when Lime wordlessly (natch) promises to keep the girls safe, she gives her approval for the bike club to be reborn.

I was preparing to pull the plug on watching and reviewing this show after three eps, since it’s pretty one-note, and I’m probably going to stick to that position, despite this being a pretty strong episode. It all comes down to not having to many shows and casts to keep track of and making my mind a muddle. It’s got its charms, and the bike angle is unique, but the fact is it’s the weakest of the Spring shows I’m watching, so it gets the hook.

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Danganronpa: The Animation – 12

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Monobear unlocks all the doors in the school, and Naegi and Kirigiri enter the principal’s office. Naegi uses her name as the password on his computer, revealing a secret passage where Naegi finds his bones, his electronic handbook, and a memory card containing a video of the students agreeing to spend the rest of their live sin the school. Naegi also finds Hagakure’s and Kirigiri’s lockers, the latter containing a notebook where she writes of “two despairs.”

Monobear distributes photos to everyone in which the recipient is the only one not present. The classroom trial begins, and after Ikusaba and Kirigiri are ruled out, it’s determined that everyone has amnesia. After analyzing Monobear’s behavior, Naegi concludes that Enoshima Junko is the mastermind, who faked her death by killing Ikusaba. Monobear transforms into Junko, who admits she and Ikusaba were twins – the “two despairs” Kirigiri wrote about.

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We say this a lot about Danganronpa, but we should have seen this coming. Maizono Sayaka was discovered as the first murder victim, but Junko was the only student who was neither a murder victim or an executed culprit; and while many have challenged Monobear, she was the only one to pay the price with his “Spear of Gungnir.” We also remember her admitting all of her modelling work was photoshopped, but in every class photo everyone accepts as genuine, her face is hidden.

It also makes sense now why we never saw nor heard from Ikusaba Mukuro, as Junko had long ago killed her off posing as her, then proceded with the mutual school killing arc with Monobear as her avatar. Finally, as revealed photos show, she and Mukuro both resemble one another, albeit with different hair and clothes. This show proves it’s full of devious surprises in bringing back a character we thought was an afterthought who quickly met her end by breaking the rules. All the students thought that too, which is why they’re equally shocked that Junko is the mastermind. But that’s the truth.

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Rating:7 (Very Good)

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The principal comissions a picture play targeted at children, and the Sket-dan decide to use Momotaro as a template. However, Bossun and Switch create a random, rambling tale that isn’t suitable for anyone, let alone children, and is summarily rejected. Later, the principal asks the Sket-dan to babysit his rich, standoffish grandson, and find he’s immune to their charms…until they go outside and make him play baseball.

The thing about parodies is, if you aren’t familiar with the source material, it’s hard to know exactly what’s going on or why it should be funny. I don’t know anything about Momotaro, and yet the Sket-dan’s parody was still funny because it was so wildly ridiculous in its presentation. Himeko’s constant feedback was also entertaining.

The second segment is funny because it shows how zany and immature Sket-dan can be, and how maturity sometimes has nothing to do with age. Yoshihiko may be ten or so, but he may as well be forty. He doesn’t have friends or fun like kids his age should. He even fears getting his expensive clothes dirty if he plays. So it’s good that Bossun & Co. were eventually able to coax the kid into a semblance of a childhood.


Rating: 3

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This week Sket Dance presented two instances of mucking up, then digging the hole ever deeper. First, Bossun needs a haircut for a photo in the school paper. Rather than go to a professional barber, he avails himself of the dubious tonsorial services of Himeko and Switch.

The results are predictable: they take turns ruining his hair, only to grow it back with a potion devised by their advisor. It works too well, growing hair “like a locomotive”, and after replenishing Bossun’s hair too many times, it fuses into a massive afro. While the premise is somewhat tired, the execution makes this sequence, with lots of good sight gags.

The second part featured the antics of the student council as they attempt to remove marker from a bronze bust of the principal and end up trashing it. It reminded me of a scene in the film “Bean” in which Mr. Bean meticulously and systematically ruins the painting Whistler’s Mother trying to clean his sneeze off. Like the magic hair tonic though, the ultimate fix is Minorin’s vast monetary resources. Two in-too-deep storylets, two unconventional resolutions.


Rating: 3