Mob Psycho 100 – 02

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The Gist: Mob grapples with how he wants to spend his middle school years. Will he spend it working for his mentor Reigen, will he join the Telepathy Club, or will he put effort into winning a girl and enjoying some young love?

The Reigen path forces Mob to dress in drag and defeat a loser-ghost that didn’t live his life to the fullest — and both of these experiences cause Mob a fair amount of discomfort.

The Telepathy Club doesn’t really interest him. However, he considers it because the club members make a good point that middle school is the only time they ever will be able to slack off, and that he would not only be welcome to join in their fun, but be greatly appreciated, since the club will be disbanded by the student council unless a fifth member joins.

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What worked: when the episode got around to having a core dilemma, that Mob’s great power does not make his personal wants any more achievable, MP100 felt compelling. Dare I say it was even remarkable that Mob’s blank expression was able to emote at the height of his stress.

It was also brilliant to make the invert the Body Improvement Club from throw-away bad guys after the Telepathy Club’s room, into an earnest thing Mob would want to be part of — that he needs to improve his physique to get the girls. That’s smart comedy and drama in short span of frames!

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What didn’t work: Reigen continues to drag down the show. Because he is predictable, he adds no humor. Because he’s self centered, he’s unlikable. Because he’s part of the plot, he gets an unnecessary amount of screen time and totally pulls us away from more interesting developments in the plot.

It’s also still an ugly show. Sadly, I get the sense it would be fine as a manga, where the muddy color pallet wouldn’t exist (black and white) and the unproductive Reigen scenes would be easy to skip. It would also match MP100’s humor style, which relies on frame-reveal and deadpan looks in response to dialog.

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The Verdict: There were glimmers of a better show this week. The ‘live paint’ style of the ghost as it spoke to Mob was visually interesting, the character developments in the second arc were interesting and funny, and Reigen was absent for much of it.

However, at 40% to explosion, Mob Psycho 100 is still not a very good show. I suspect it will continue to get better as Mob grows and his sense of hope deteriorates, but making the audience wade through 3 or 4 episodes first is a brave move to make. Brave… or really stupid.

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Mob Psycho 100 – 01 (First Impression)

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The Gist: Reigen Arataka is a fraud-psychic who relies on Kageyama Shigeo (aka Mob) to do the real exorcisms. In our first outing, he has Mob get rid of a minor spirit followed by a tunnel full of angry dead biker spirits and a ancient mountain evil. Mob succeeds both times and, while he notices Reigen isn’t really doing anything, he hasn’t caught on to the fraud yet.

However, according to the scene-bridge counter, he’s 27% towards his explosion…which is probably gonna be huge, judging from the incomprehensible action sequence at the cold open of the show.

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Everyone’s going to tell you that you should like this show because it’s from the creator of One Punch Man, features an understated best-of-the-best hero who, like OPM, doesn’t yet appreciate how the world works around him. Some of the timing jokes are similar, as are the goofy, intentionally dumb character designs.

However, the only thing that is actually good about the show is Mob’s family and the short scene we get of them sharing his meal. His brother is a top student but underplays that, his dad appreciates his sons’ greatnesses, and the mother pokes at them all for ‘spoiling’ Mob, especially for bending spoons while trying to eat curry. It’s charming, quirky and fun in a way that makes me believe lightning can strike twice…

…Except the rest of the episode was unpleasant to look at, listen to, and the Fraud-Sensei/Mob Defeats Spirits formula is just not interesting.

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They say this place is haunted by the spirit of a man who saw a cockroach and jumped so high his head went through the ceiling and he died! (apparently true!)

The Verdict: I’m holding out hope because of the counter and some of the humor but this is a hell of an ugly show. Visuals aside, Reigen’s archetype isn’t entertaining since, you know, we get that he’s a fraud from the get go and Mob doesn’t even have a personality.

Sure, there are moments of cute/weirdness, like Mob’s love interest being surrounded by girls with vegetable heads and the opening rock-counting to 100 is fun but…that’s not enough.

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Boku dake ga Inai Machi – 02

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Well, it didn’t take long for the season’s top pick to pull away from the field: Erased is the best new anime we’re watching at RABUJOI, and it isn’t really close. This week it raises the bar once more, throwing us along with Satoru back to 1988. The setting is perfectly retro, from the stoically practical structures to the efficient boxy cars.

Satoru is, naturally, quite disoriented by this latest (and by far furthest) revival, as anyone would bee if their 29-year-old consciousness suddenly found itself in the body of their 10-year-old self. The early camerawork, detached and dream-like, does a great job visualizing that disorientation.

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But once he realizes what being where and when he is means, he races home, where his mother finds him dozing on the floor, waiting for her to come home from work. I’ll admit, I was not prepared for the emotional punch of seeing Sachiko again, nor Satoru’s reaction to seeing her again. Tears fell from my eyes as they fell from his. That’s when you know you’re locked in a story.

He’s right; his mom will look pretty much the same as she does here 18 years later, and that’s some good-ass genes. But the emotional similarity ends there. The feeling of simply living with his mom in that cramped little apartment, smelling her cook dinner, and eating as a loving familial unit; he remembers it all, but now he sees it in a new light.

He now experiences this stuff through the eyes of a 29-year-old who, from his perspective, saw his mother lying dead in a pool of her own blood onl hours ago, not the 10-year-old boy she sees. As such, his good manners and loving, grateful attitude throw his mom off.

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Satoru also realizes that now he’s back in a time before Hinazuki Kayo was murdered, he can act to try to avoid that tragedy. But first things first; he has to introduce himself and become friends with her. His mates misinterpret his attention to and desire to speak with her as a crush, and manage to arrange a meeting, which goes…okay.

Satoru figures out she looks to be a bit of a handful (“this brat is a pain in the ass” was a brilliantly timed line from his inner voice), but Kayo quickly sees a bit of herself in him, specifically that they’re both “performing” to the world around them. Now, for a minute, I thought she might be aware his 29-year-old self is in there, or even be a 29-year-old herself inside.

But neither has to turn out to be true, because the fact remains: they have a connection. It’s one they might have had if Satoru had approached her the first time around. Now he has the benefit of foresight and hindsight.

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Kenya, the wisest-beyond-his-years member of Satoru’s group of friends, seems to know what his mate’s interest in Kayo is, and instructs him to read her essay in the class composition collection, a short, simple, utterly heartbreaking tale entitled “The Town Without Me” (or “The Town Where Only I am Missing”), which also happens to be the title of the show.

Had he read the essay 18 years ago, he may not have seen it for the obvious, top-of-her-lungs cry for help that it is; it’s also chillingly prophetic. But he’s not really 10, he’s 29, and now that he has a pretty good idea of Kayo’s situation, he can’t simply stand by and let her be erased a second time. Moreover, he believes saving Kayo will sufficiently alter the future to save his mother, not to mention his framing in the murder.

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So he tells his mom he’s going to have a party in the apartment with five of his friends. She only knows of his four friends, and immediately assumes the fifth is his girlfriend. But one step at a time. Satoru walks to the park where Kayo is reliably hanging out, not wanting to go home to her physically abusive mother (a harsh contrast with Sachiko).

There, Satoru tells her the truth: he does perform around others, pretending to like everybody so some of them will like him in return. She can relate, and elaborates on his thoughts by telling him she often wishes that one day, she won’t have to pretend; that the interactions will be genuine.

29-year-old Satoru can see what’s going on here: as he’s trying to hide his social awkwardness with forced affableness, she’s trying to hide her churning emotions by presenting a stoic, uncaring facade. The problem as he sees it is, a 10-year-old just isn’t strong enough to bear that burden.

Kayo needs a friend; someone who will be there to raise her spirits and restore hope that things will get better; that her suffering won’t be permanent; that she needn’t disappear from town, or from the world. Satoru wants to be that friend, and judging from their discussion and tender meeting of cold, ungloved hands, she’s open to such an arrangement.

I desperately want Satoru to suceed.

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Boku dake ga Inai Machi – 01 (First Impressions)

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Yikes, Hannah did not like Active Raid one bit; no she did not! I, on the other hand, seem to have stumbled on what could be one of the season’s top shows. It’s certainly the best so far after one episode. And it did it with a highly realistic and immersive setting; a gloomy atmosphere full of regret over things not done or unsaid; and a young man unable to progress in life, still haunted by hazy memories and mysteries of the past. Moreover, it didn’t pull its punches.

Oh yeah, and said young man, 29-year-old struggling mangaka/pizza delivery boy Fujinuma Satoru, has a power. No, he can’t defeat villains with one punch, but he does periodically, involuntarily go back a couple of minutes in time when something bad happens around him, enabling him to take action to prevent disaster.

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The reveal of that ability is the first of many jolts this episode gave me, and it’s an ability expertly demonstrated when he stops a truck from hitting a little boy in the crosswalk. Saving the boy gets him injured, and while he’s out, he remembers one of those hazy memories: a haunting image of a little girl in a red coat standing alone in the snowy night. This realm – near the “heart of his mind”, is a place he has always feared, and both his creative calling and social life are suffering as a result.

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That doesn’t mean good things don’t happen to Satoru. His selfless, heroic actions were witnessed by a cute high school girl (and his pizza joint co-worker) Katagiri Airi, who stays by his bedside, now seeing him in a new light. But Satoru doesn’t see anything more coming of such an auspicious encounter; after all, they’re not the same generation, and a lot of her “Gen-Y” sayings and doings are strange and frightening to him.

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Speaking of generations, his mother Sachiko, 52 but looking 32 (he calls her an ageless “yokai” more than once) crashes at his house for a while when he’s discharged from the hospital. This puts Satoru in yet another light, not as the intriguing senpai with the secret heroic life, but the darling son whose mother is worried about him.

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Both his mom’s presence and news of abductions on the television bring more memories to the surface, to when Satoru was a little kid and used to play with a local guy he nicknamed “Yuuki.” Something seems a little off about how Yuuki looks and talks, and sure enough, after two kids from Satoru’s class are abducted, Yuuki is arrested as the culprit and sent to prison for kidnapping and murder.

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When Sachiko and Airi cross paths, the former invites the latter to Satoru’s for dinner, and Satoru starts to suspect his mom is looking for a wife for him, taking Airi’s words about him being “a friend she respects” as a mere polite formality, and that she has no further interest in him. But I imagined, like Sachiko did, that Airi was more interested in Satoru than he thought, considering she bothered to spend so much time with him as late.

Later, as Satoru looks further into the crimes Yuuki was accused of, Sachiko gets suspicious of a person she sees out in the city, knowing the serial abduction and murder case isn’t actually closed yet. She’s always regretted withholding info from Satoru, and making him forget as much as he could about the dark events that transpired in the fifth grade.

Because Satoru knows Yuuki didn’t abduct or kill anyone. It was someone else. Further, that scene of the girl in red – Hinazuki Kayo – was the last time Satoru saw her before she disappeared. He’s blamed himself for not asking her if he could walk her home ever since.

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In any case, Sachiko never gets the chance to come clean with her son, as a mysterious assailant in a black suit enters the apartment and suddenly stabs her in the back, killing her. Now this was a huge jolt. Holy shit. Here, I had settled into this nice, warm, pleasant atmosphere with Satoru and his lovely mother and Airi and it’s all taken away with one plunge of a knife. Damn…

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The killer passes Satoru in the hall as he returns home from the bookstore, and only moments after discovering his mother inside his apartment, the neighbor sees him with blood on his hands and calls the cops. Things threaten to spiral out of control fast as Satoru—like Yuuki, AKA Shiratori Jun—looks poised to be framed. And my heart is pumping.

Just then, another blue butterfly appears – a sign another “revival” or time jump is about to occur, and all of a sudden Satoru isn’t dealing with cops in the city anymore. He’s back in Hokkaido, in the snow, and he’s gone back a little more than a couple minutes, because it’s 1988.

No doubt, Kayo is still alive, and he has a chance to do things differently. And that, ladies and gentlemen, is one hell of an enticing way to end your first episode!

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Kiseijuu: Sei no Kakuritsu – 12

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In this heart-crushing powerhouse of an episode that marks the halfway point of the show, it felt like Parasyte had finally put all its visceral and emotional pieces together.

Like Migi, it’s been an often cold and calculating show that more often than not punishes anyone who takes actions based on emotion alone, and takes things to their logical conclusion. But with both Shinichi’s occasional romantic interactions with Satomi and the tragic events of this week, the show proves its blood is still red…’for now’.

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Kana is still having dreams in which Shinichi is rescuing her from a monster than sweeping her off her feet. Considering he’s with Satomi, you’d think she wouldn’t want them, or the feelings that go with them, but a.) she can’t help how she feels and b.) all of this stuff going on supports her belief that she is the only one for Shinichi.

Meanwhile, Migi is all worked up (and playfully complex in his forms) about the prospect of his own kind running for and even winning elections, as farfetched as it seems. He even takes a cynical but not inaccurate dig at politics, stating that anyone with a grasp of psychology can succeed in that arena.

One great thing is that as stuck together as they are, Migi still can’t read Shinichi’s mind. That’s good, because Shinichi is far more concerned with Kana than the mayoral election. To Migi, that kind of ‘concern’ could get them both killed.

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Not willing to give up, Kana ‘bumps into’ Shinichi again, whereupon he takes her aside and reiterates the danger of approaching signals she thinks are him. Mitsuo spots the two and assumes Shinichi is trying to steal Kana from him. Shinichi telling him “it isn’t like that” is hardly convincing argument after Mitsuo hears things like “you make me feel like no one else can.” Somebody’s jelly.

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Migi doesn’t like this persistent interaction with the unpredictable (or perhaps all-too-predictable) Kana, and warns Shinichi that her welfare is not more important than his, and if Shinichi goes and does something that threatens his safety, Migi won’t hesitate to act on his own. It sounds like a threat, because it is. Because Migi has no sympathy.

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Well do, so it hurts to see Kana get so obsessed with Kana through no fault of her own; she’s only following the ‘power’ she’s suddenly gained. She has a very close call when she runs out into the night and comes across a parasyte, but isn’t attacked. I’m going to chalk that incredibly lucky result to the parasyte having already eaten its fill that night.

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Shinichi meets Kana somewhere private for a ‘serious conversation’, and her infatuation makes her get her hopes up that he’s going to confess to her. When he instead tells her about everything – the parasytes, his right hand, all of it – she’s not shocked; she’s disappointed! More to the point, she doesn’t quite believe his story, either, especially since he can’t morph his hand, as Migi is asleep.

She then tells Shinichi that she can now discern his signal from the signals of the other monsters, furthering her self-imposed narrative that they are meant to be together. In exchange for this secret, she makes Shinichi promise to show her his squiggly right hand sometime, even making a cute little Migi-like hand gesture.

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Migi and Shinichi are both surprised to find the mayoral candidate won, meaning the parasytes now have a safe haven and food source, but there’s nothing to be done about that at the moment, so Shinichi and Satomi arrange a movie date.

Again, Kana is not far from them, and even tries to will Shinichi to look back at her. She can’t believe Satomi, who doesn’t have the power she does, could possibly be right for him. But only Migi looks back at her (which she doesn’t notice).

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Mitsuo shows up again, apparently stalking the stalker, and Kana’s frustration boils over. However, as much as a loathe Mitsuo, I like how Kana walks back her harsh words, since she and Mitsuo have clearly been friends long enough that he’s not someone she’d dispose of so easily, even if she can’t return his feelings.

And she definitely can’t…she’s in full Shinichi Fixation Mode, writing their names on the pillar of her hideout. Then Shinichi learns from Migi that Kana herself was putting out a signal, making her and even more vulnerable and conspicous target for parasytes, should she run into the wrong one.

Shinichi decides to cancel his date and meet with Kana again, a move Kana again interprets in a way that supports her fate theory. Confident she’ll be able to find Shinichi with her power alone, she wraps his plucked hair around her finger and sets out…without her phone.

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As much as she wants to sense Shinichi and only Shinichi, and even though she told Shinichi she had that power, it turns out she doesn’t, and even though I knew this situation was a long time coming, my heart still sank down below the foundation of the house as she ran into the hideout to find another parasyte feeding.

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And that…was just it for Kana. In this case, the show took her obsession and her increasing vulnerability to its logical conclusion. She may be able to sense parasytes, but she can’t fight them, or even run away. Her knight Shinichi does arrive, just as she hoped, but not soon enough to save her. [Bangs fist on desk] DAMN IT!

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Shinichi’s retribution is swift and chilling in its grim efficiency. He tells Migi to “handle the defense”, rushes the parasyte, dodges his attack, and rips his heart out, impressing the hard-to-impress Migi.

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But while I’m sure the gesture felt good for a moment to his still-human psyche, it is far too late to save Kana. He holds her as she bleeds out, and she tells him this is just how it went in her dreams, before quietly passing away. Then Shinichi looks up to find she died right in front of the pillar she wrote on, making it a gravepost.

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With her sensing power, Kana was special, no doubt. But did that power go further into a kind of precognition? Did she dream of things that then came to pass, with just the detail of her surviving being different? It’s neat to think about, even if its hard to connect those more ‘magical’ concepts with the more scientific reality of the parasytes. But maybe that was the point. In any case, losing Kana was very upsetting. I didn’t realize how much I liked her until she was taken from us. She deserved a much longer life.

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Detectives with knowledge of the parasytes questioned him thoroughly but let him go, (he’s mostly above suspicion because they plucked his hair), though they’re faced with the mystery of who killed the parasyte who killed Kana. Mitsuo, who has seen (and been on the wrong end of) Shinichi’s strength, gets in face and starts pummeling him anyway for failing to protect Kana, who from his perspective had strayed into Shinichi’s arms so willingly.

Mitsuo is even more upset that Shinichi takes the beating so calmly, and didn’t even shed a tear for Kana, as if he weren’t human. All Shinichi can to to respond is drop Mitsuo with one blow, say “that’s right!” to the non-human claim, and curse Mitsuo for ‘going down so easily.’

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He’s not just talking about Mitsuo, though. He’s talking about Kana, who went down so easily, and his mom, who went down so easily, and those cops at the school who went down so easily, and those yakuza who went down so easily. Humans are so goddamn frail and weak, they can’t protect themselves or anyone else from the parasytes.

Only Shinichi, who is no longer fully human, seems capable of protecting them. And yet, he couldn’t protect Kana. For once, I agree with Migi that Kana was probably a hopeless case anyway, but that doesn’t change the fact that none of his awesome powers were worth a damn when it mattered most.

There’s simply too much on Shinichi’s plate; too many people to protect and no good way to do it. And it’s tearing him up inside.

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P.S. Kudos to Sawashiro Miyuki for some fantastic work voicing Kana.

Kiseijuu: Sei no Kakuritsu – 11

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This week Kana has a Very Special Dream about being saved from a parasyte orgy/buffet by the gallant, dashing Ser Shinichi. It’s pretty over-the-top, but it gets the point across quickly: Kana is a girl enthralled, and she won’t go gentle into that good night; whether Shinichi already has a girl or not.

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She tries greeting him in the popular style, by plucking a hair, but he stops her, telling her it’s dangeorus. It is dangerous, as the cold open showed: plucking the hair of a parasyte just means that parasyte now has a reason to kill you! Shinichi isn’t interested in Kana, and Migi seems repelled by her, but nor can Shinichi feel he can leave her totally alone, as her parasyte-sensing power could get her in serious trouble.

The High School Love Wars are fully on this week, as Satomi, after seeing Kana with Shinichi again, asks her if she thinks anything’s changed about him. Kana has only really known the ‘intermittently ferocious’ version, so she can’t say. What Kana does discern from Satomi is that there’s trouble in paradise, and she still has a chance with her valiant knight.

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Parallel to the land of young love, the parasytes aren’t standing still. In the wake of the school incident, a few of them have started ‘experimenting’, intentionally picking fights with big groups of armed tough guys (yakuza) and seeing how much damage they do before they’re all wiped out. This smiling fitness buff-parasyte never even transforms, such is the latent strength of his host — nor does he stop smiling, which is a change of pace from their usual vacant expressions.

I’d also point out while I didn’t really shed any tears for the gangsters, any more than I would if a parasyte ripped those cat-abusing kids a new one, it’s still disturbing to see they’ve moved on from using humans as mere food, but are employing them in their ‘exercise’ routines. Fighting the most aggressive humans will make them that much more effective against humans who would rather not resort to violence but have no choice.

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But Never mind that shitShinichi asks Satomi out on a date. A DATE! SQUEEEEEEE! XDDD

Seriously, these two are too adorable for words. It’s so good to see them doing normal things like going to the movies (not The Ring 2), having coffee, hanging out with dogs, or relaxing at the park and trying to ignore child abuse. That last thing sets something off in Shinichi, however, and only highlights to Satomi that something is still wrong; something he still won’t tell her.

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Kana happens to sense Shinichi and run to his side only to find him locking lips with Ms. Murano, but what neither she nor Shinichi do see is Satomi’s expression after they leave, or her tears. She weeps for the same reason I do: because just such a dreadful bummer that this pure, wonderful, natural, otherwise normal romance is so very very doomed in the midst of all this parasyte crap.

Satomi still doesn’t know much about it or Shinichi’s role, but a part of her she can’t ignore or dismiss fundamentally doubts Shinichi is really Shinichi, and that’s no way for a relationship to grow.

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Despite having just seen the happy couple on cloud nine, Kana doesn’t give up the fight, asking Shinichi to meet her in town for ‘one last favor’. That town just happens to be the site of a political rally…in which all of the politicians — including the mayoral candidate — are parasytes! Even worse, one of them spots Shinichi just as Kana is showing up.

Could an…ahem…less stylized version of Kana’s dream about to unfold in real life? Another question: how long will Kana survive her precarious position, being drawn to forces that could kill her? We’ll find out next week!

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Kiseijuu: Sei no Kakuritsu – 10

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Tachikawa was a combination of stupid and heroic when she confronted Shimada Hideo alone last week, but the universe isn’t ready to snuff out her candle yet, as she trip-dodges his first blow and tosses the nearest thing at hand — a bottle of paint thinner — that just so happens to give the monster nasty burns and render him unable to morph. Hey, who said fine art is useless!

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That same universe must have determined that it had tortured Shinichi and Satomi enough for the time being, as Shimada’s rampage proves the perfect opportunity for Shinichi to not only play the hero, but mend fences with his sweetheart. Shinichi’s desire to get rid of Shimada himself is another case of his human desire for revenge — combined with the knowledge he has the ability to Do Something — overpowering Migi’s cold logic.

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The ep gives Shinichi and me one last shock when we see a corpse with hair similar to Satomi’s in the hall, but it’s not her. In a vicious beat of dark humor, Shinichi repeats Satomi’s line of “I mistook you for someone else.” The other two students wig out and run right into their deaths, but Shinichi goes into full Get Hitomi To Safety Mode, and damn the consequences of the abilities he exposes.

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Things really escalated fast for Shimada, who was probably going to try to keep the experiment going as long as he could, but the universe wasn’t having it, and in the end he resorted to his killer instincts. A firing squad of pea-shooting cops riddle him with holes before he kills them all. Migi wants Shinichi to leave it to the cops, who will eventually bring something of a larger caliber to bear, but feeling responsible for the Shimada mess to begin with, Shinichi insists on ending him personally.

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He does so…with BASEBALL. The most violent and deadly sport in human history — if a few rules were tweaked a bit, that is. Conceding to Shinichi’s wishes, Migi makes sure this is done right, giving him an awesome muscle monster arm to nail Shimada mortally through the heart from over 300m away.

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The final butcher’s bill? 17 deaths, including students, faculty, and police. But because everyone who saw Shimada in Battle Formation is either among those 17 or scarred from the trauma of the situation, the police and media keep the incident under wraps.

In a big room with a big desk (and a Big Board!), Professor Yui cheerfully briefs the assembled authorities on the nature of the parasites, which he calls “sentient muscle”, and how to detect them: By plucking a hair from the one you suspect. Of course, that assumes it will let you live long enough to pluck the hair and do something about it, which is assuming a lot.

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Still, I guess it’s better than nothing. After a few days, school starts back up (presumably after all the blood was mopped up) and Shinichi runs into a cautious but cordial Murano, who apologizes for not responding to his texts, but thanks him profusely for saving her.

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Shinichi suggests they not dwell on the horrors of the past, and when he does, he doesn’t just mean forgetting about the harrowing bloody experience Satomi just went through, nor the fact he bounded around around like a superhero while she was in his arms. No, he also wants her to forget about all the awful exchanges they had prior to Shimada going postal.

Satomi seems receptive to that arrangement, and just like that, they’re incredibly back on good terms. Just because things went pretty well for Shinichi this week doesn’t mean the trend will continue. But at this point in the show’s 24-episode run, it was nice to see a glimmer of hope that things will turn out okay return, even if that turns out not to be the case at all.

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Kiseijuu: Sei no Kakuritsu – 09

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Kiseijuu: Sei no Kakuritsu 9 has a rather full plate by the series’ standards. Or maybe I’m just responding to all the little plot elements, which seem less focused than usual?

It’s not like other Parasytes haven’t stolen the spotlight from Shinichi before — both Not-Mom and Ryoko got plenty of camera time, narration, and agenda building — but, for some reason, Shimada Hideo comes off as more significant character. Like we’re going to see a lot of him for a while, because he interacts with many characters, and not just Shinichi?

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Or maybe it felt fragmented and unfocused because Shinichi himself doesn’t really have an agenda? He knows what he is, he knows who his enemies are and what they are capable of, he has a strong understanding with Migi now, and he isn’t even particularly driven to fix his relationship with Maruno or grow another one with Kana.

Basically, he spends the episode running from place to place, exerting his influence and growing physical presence… while every other character we’ve met gets on with more specific, plot advancing activities.

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For example, Shinichi’s dad gets interviewed by FBI types, who explain that the government knows what’s going on, but has no way of identifying the intruders yet. He even agrees not to go public because doing so would accomplish nothing but panic.

Really, by the end of the episode, Shinichi’s dad has come to terms with his wife’s death, alien invaders, and given up drinking (maybe?) to seriously address his son. This is all character growth for him, mind you, as Shinichi is basically locked in Vulcan Mode after his heart-bonding, which isn’t new or news to us at this point.

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If Parasyte 9 is about Shinichi at all it, it’s about how he’s basically good at everything except not acting like a crazy person around Murano. No seriously! He can identify complex social orders with a casual glance, shut down fights without causing damage to his opponents, and generally keep his cool…

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…Except if he’s within earshot of his would-be-girlfriend.

I have to say that, if this show were cut differently, it would make a hilarious comedy about a bat-shit-insane guy who’s finally hit puberty late in high school and the poor girl who used to love him for his innocence!

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Back to the serious stuff at hand, Mitsuo and Hideo keep coming into conflict. Luckily for Mitsuo, Hideo wants to avoid a bloodbath and then, when that’s no longer avoidable, Shinichi intercedes before anything can happen.

Badass super-jumps and punch-stopping aside, Parasyte really sells these scenes through everyone’s reaction to Shinichi. Hideo is totally blown away by Shinichi’s prowess (way beyond what he should even be able to do as a full parasyte) and Yano-san, Mitsuo’s boss, is emotionally shaken more by Shinichi’s gaze and presence than the effectiveness of his blocks.

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On the lesser side of the bad-ass spectrum, we get sanity-deficient Glasses Girl stalking Hideo. She goes from lusting after him to questioning his reality to identifying him as an alien to confirming that with her brother (who draws alien pictures for the government) to…

deciding not to tell anyone about this and confronting Hideo alone in the art room the following morning. What. The. Heck. Is. Wrong. With. Your. Brain??

Of all the plot threads, this was the most ham-fisted.

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However, judging by Parasyte’s pacing, I’m pretty sure Shinichi will save the day quickly next episode, probably without revealing that he too is partially an alien and, with glasses girl’s help, win Murano’s heart and trust back.

Hideo is nice and terrifying though. So…kudos? I guess.

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For some reason, Kiseijuu: Sei no Kakuritsu episodes 8 & 9 went live at the same time and I’m a little embarrassed to admit that I didn’t realize this for several minutes. No, really! 9 starts in a bus station with Kana looking through the crowd…just how episode 7 ends!

Ignoring that weirdness, what did I think of the episode? Well… too ambitious and unfocused I think. For goodness sakes! Kana could have used the screen time that was given over to Ryoko’s evil parasyte secret society meeting or Glasses Girl talking to her brother about faces or any of the instances where Shinichi scares the piss out of Murano.

Still good looking, creepy, and original though. So I’m only taking it down a point from last week.

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Kiseijuu: Sei no Kakuritsu – 08

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Franklin, sorry if I may have insinuated you were a cold unfeeling insect; I may have gone too far. Not to mention, you ain’t got nothing on Shinichi! Or rather, the New, Improved(?) Shinichi who has taken form in the last couple episodes, the result of the further cementing of him and Migi. The title of this episode is “Freezing Point”, and Shinichi seems to be arriving at his with all due haste.

Granted, there’s still plenty of the “old” Shinichi in there; the one who would take a dying puppy to a quieter place to expire; the warm, kind, humane person Satomi fell for. When she sees Shinichi caring for the puppy, she’s relieved to see that side of him after her initial contact with him was chillier and less “him”. Heck, Satomi pretty much admits she felt “safer” when Shinichi’s kindness was mixed with his former nervousness.

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Then Shinichi instantly burns that just rebuilt bridge by unceremoniously dumping the dead puppy in the trash. That action is harmful enough, but the chilly way he explains his actions to Satomi makes things much worse.

He asks Migi what he said wrong (never a good sign!), and Migi replies that he didn’t say anything wrong per se, it’s just that he sounded like Migi; saying the kinds of horrible things that used to appall Shinichi when Migi said them. His mind’s changed along with his body so much, now he doesn’t even realize when he says the same kind of horrible shit!

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What this boils down to (or rather freezes down to) is that merging more fully with Migi may have given Shinichi amazing gifts, but those gifts are wreaking absolute havoc on his love life, to the point that there may no longer be any hope for him and Satomi. Still, I guess there’s something to be said for that being your biggest problem at the moment, rather than, say, being worried about getting killed by a parasyte.

In fact, this is a relatively action and violence-free episode, and ironically the most dangerous-seeming person for most of the episode is Shinichi himself, as we wonder just how much more he’ll adopt Migi’s behavior. Then a Shimada Hideo shows up and changes all that. Claiming to wish him no harm, Hideo was sent by a preggers Ryouko to ‘observe’ Shinichi, saying their seeking ways to coexist with humans without killing.

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Hideo, like Ryouko and unlike A, is a parasyte to be reasoned with, or is at least sophisticated enough to play along with that notion. But I like the idea that he’s come to the school out in the open as a new transfer student, and proceeds to one-up Shinichi in a number of P.E. activities, as if he’s trying to approximate an ego. He even succeeds in attracting the ladies.

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Shinichi considers what Hideo has said, but just because he’s starting to act more like one of them doesn’t mean he’s ready to trust one. Again, the old Shinichi surfaces as he remembers what a parasyte did to his mother; only now his rage needn’t be internal and stewing; now he has the strength to do something about it.

He wears that moment of rage all too openly on his face, startling an already unsteady Satomi in a moment that had me laughing out loud. Along with the easy alley fight with Mitsuo, the puppy-tossing, and the Hideo pissing gym contest, Shinichi startling Satomi with his RAGE FACE are all examples of this episode’s cheeky but welcome sense of black humor. It lightens the mood at times, but not so much that the serious horror themes are undermined.

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Getting back to the theme of Shinichi now having the absolute worst luck with regards to Satomi, Kana is now essentially stalking him, making use of her latent ability to sense him coming, which she’s taken to believe means they’re soul mates, creating a tidy love triangle Shinichi wants nothing to do with. Even so, his gallant rescue of Kana from Hideo is another example of him doing something he never could have done before without even thinking about it: be a hero.

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Kana can’t just sense Shinichi, but Hideo as well, which means she can detect all parasytes. And thank goodness Shinichi gets to Kana and warns her to stay away from others, or Kana would have met a sticky end. Along with Satomi, Shinichi’s late mother and now his self-medicating father, everyone who has a close bond with him knows something’s very very different. In his dad’s case, he simply can’t comprehend how Shinichi can be so calm and cool about the tragedy that just befell them.

He wonders if Shinichi is “made of steel”, another not-subtle dig at his new status as a hero-in-waiting. And like any superhero worth his salt, Shinichi’s abilities and duty also serve to isolate him from everyone, especially those he loves and who love him. It’s a lonely road, but if he really wants to avenge his mother, he must walk it without fear.

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On second thought, a healthy dose of fear might be called for, after witnessing Hideo change his face to that of a model’s to ‘bait’ a random young woman into following him into a dark alley where he proceeds to eat her. Shinichi did tell him he’d kill him if he harmed anyone…he knew.

Still, Hideo was less than honest with Shinichi, as Shinichi rightly suspected. Unless something else is going on here, and Shinichi’s aggressive attitude towards Hideo goaded him into falling off the human-killing wagon. Whatever the case, Shinichi must continue to keep his friends close…and Hideo closer.

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Kiseijuu: Sei no Kakuritsu – 07

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Shinichi lands from the jump he began last episode and turns to find a parasyte… just not the parasyte he was expecting. As it turns out, Shinichi discovers he’s not alone in this crazy world: Uda Mamoru, a cry-baby but moral fellow, is also in an alliance of sorts with a parasyte.

Uda’s situation is a bit different from Shinichi’s, in that he lives in a rural area and hasn’t run into any other parasytes yet. On top of that, his parasyte (simply called Parasyte — it didn’t want a name) comes off as generally more up-beat than Migi. Maybe even ‘nice?’

parasyte72Oh Yeah! Mikako is in this episode! I guess.

You see, Uda fell into the water during the transformation process and Parasyte had to save his life from the get go. Sure, he probably would have died if he’d tried to just eat Uda’s brain, but that thought process, and Uda’s love of movies over books, has lead to a quirkier, less edgy relationship.

And for goodness sakes! His face is delightful!

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Uda and Shinichi quickly become friends and Uda promises to warn Shinichi over the phone if he encounters another parasyte, which happens about 5 seconds later and then there’s a show down with Shinichi’s Not-Mom on a cliff.

Unfortunately, Migi has just fallen asleep and Uda is stabbed through the heart very quickly. So Shinichi has to go it alone… albeit with a sword-hand Migi left him at the last minute.

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In simple terms, Shinichi wipes the floor with Not-Mom. While he has a moment of pause when she shields herself with her brun-arm, Sinichi’s new speed and reflexes let him see how simplistic not mom really is.

In fact, the hybrid’s appear to be smarter than pure-parasytes in general. Uda survives because Parasyte understood Not-Mom’s attack pattern and moved his heart elsewhere. Uda even lands the killing blow, as a courtesy to Shinichi.

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Soon there after, Shinichi is reunited with his dad, has a nice moment where they sort of indirectly come to understand each other, and Mikako gets totally left behind because… wait why was she introduced as a character in the first place?

I’m not even sure Shinichi remembers her name…

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So it was a good episode but I can’t figure out how it deserves anything higher than an 8? Honestly, between the multi-character voice overs, the DBZ style ‘flurry of fists’ fight animation, and the completely obvious and predictable outcome of all this build up, none of episode 7 was notable.

Sure, Shinichi finally got to be mister bad ass and Udo/Parasyte were a cute duo, but I’m scratching my head over Mikako and Not-Mom. I was waiting for some twist to happen with the first, and bewildered why the later was still hanging around this remote town AFTER she’d already gone to Tokyo.

Maybe we’ll get some answers later on but I don’t get the feeling we’ll see Udo or Mikako again, which just made the last 3 episodes feel like a fetch quest style ‘whatever’ side mission.

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Kiseijuu: Sei no Kakuritsu – 06

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Shinichi’s not-mom may have stabbed him through the heart, but obviously our protagonist can’t die a quarter of the way into the show. I mean, he could, like this guy (spoilers!), but I’d rather he stick around, and obviously so does Migi, since he won’t last long without a living host. His revival is a “how, not if” situation. But that doesn’t meant the “how” won’t change both host and parasite.

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I like the juxtaposition of Shinichi on the floor dead with a scene at school in which a concerned Satomi is grilled by another classmate who seems to be into him. This is all the drama Shinichi would have had to bear had he never “met” Migi. High School Drama, with rumors and innuendo and love triangles, not creepy-as-fuck monsters and massive internal injuries.

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Migi’s manner of reviving Shinichi is plausable within the construct of a show in which a character like Migi exists. The stabbing last week could have been construed as a cheap cliffhanger we knew would be resolved relatively simply, or the show intended it to feel like just another day in Shinichi’s Hell. It must also be pointed out that if Shinichi ever shows his chest to a physician ever again, there will be questions. Many, many questions.

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Poor Satomi has the worst timing this week (you could say, timing-wise, she’s…snake-bitten), as she stops by Shinichi’s just as he’s leaving to see his father at the hospital on the island where he and mom were staying. Satomi’s no fool, and sees that Shinichi is troubled by something; for Pete’s sake, he looks like he’s aged ten years! Dying for several minutes can do that.

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Shinichi’s relative cold shoulder isn’t just a factor of him wanting to protect her from the truth; he’s simply so emotionally on edge right now he simply can’t deal with something from his “normal world”, right now, which must’ve felt like it happened hundreds of years ago. His dad is in the hospital, his mom is dead, and he’s through with being Mr. Evolved Sensibility. He wants revenge.

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Did you notice how differently Shinichi’s father acted when his son was there, as opposed to earlier, when he was recounting his crazy story to the cops? He talks of a monster murdering his wife, but both the detectives and doctor believe he’s mixing reality and nightmares after suffering a head injury falling into the sea. A perfectly logical explanation. When Shinichi sees him, not only does Dad not want to cause a fuss in front of his son, but truly believes the explanation the others gave him.

When Shinichi mentions a monster, his dad just assumes he got the idea from an erratic phone call he made. In any case, Shinichi remains utterly alone in his knowledge of the Parasytes. Not that his dad’s continued raving would have accomplished anything. Two voices speaking about things like this carry no more weight than one.

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While staying at the inn owned by the family of a cute schoolgirl who he met on the boat to the island, Shinichi ponders his next move, and Migi finally awakens with important news: In his current physiological state, he now has to sleep four hours every day, and cannot be woken, even in an emergency. That’s bad news for Shinichi, who chose the inn specifically because it was within Migi’s detection range, but he can’t detect anything while asleep.

Still, Shinichi makes it clear that despite what his biology is saying to Migi, he no longer considers him an enemy, but a lifesaver and an ally. Admittedly, Shinichi could just be saying this because he doesn’t have a change against Not-Mom without his slippery friend.

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The innkeeper girl Mikako pretty much falls for Mr. Tall-and-Dark during his visit, and again, Shinichi simply has no time for love, as Migi finally detects a Parasyte. Shinichi rushes after it after only getting half of Mikako’s directions, but it’s all good because Migi further merging with his body has not only bestowed upon him heightened senses, but increased speed and strength. Are Not-Mom’s days numbered…or is Shinichi mistaken about the Parasyte Migi detected even being her?

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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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