Hundred – 02

hund21

Due to RABUJOI’s informal commitment to keep the number of shows we review at a reasonable dozen or less, Hundred seemed like a no-brainer for a drop after an underwhelming opener. I’m still won’t go so far as to call its follow up good, but it was an improvement, and Hundred has the good fortune to air on Monday, classically a slow day for anime. …So here we are.

A big reason this episode was better than the last is that it actually has a good fight in the beginning…and at least the start of a second fight at the end, followed by the promise of our protagonist and his definitely not-a-boy roommate being pressed into action due to their abilities and the scarcity of slayers.

hund22

Back to that first fight: it’s not earth-shatteringly awesome or anything, but it gets the job done (an article of praise one could use very often in Hundred). There’s a boob grab early on, Queen Claire makes Hayato pay, and intends to finish the duel quickly, but can’t.

Hayato’s better than she thought he’d be; he’s better than he thought he’d be, going into a kind of trance where his eyes turn to slits, he dons full-body armor, and backs the Invincible Queen into a corner.

hund23

To its credit, Hundred doesn’t put the haughty chick in her place; instead, the duel is a tie, and by her own acknowledgement (she broke the rules she set for herself in order to win). As such, she recinds the expulsion orders we knew would be rescinded, but she’s not foot-stampingly angry about it.

In fact, she, like the rest of Little Garden, is impressed by Hayato, and takes an interest in him, to the chagrin of Emile, who, let’s not beat around the bush, IS A GIRL IN BOYS CLOTHES. She decides to use the fact Hayato still thinks she’s a guy to go on a date with him in the town center.

hund24

The episode lags a bit here, but it becomes clear that Hayato is aware on some level that Emile is a girl, or at least s cute ano girly a boy that he can’t help but blush and be self-conscious about their interactions. Not that Emile is going to pull anything, but one reason I want to stick with Hundred is I want to see how her gender is finally revealed (even if that reveal turns out to be underwhelming).

Hayato becomes flanked on both sides when Karen invites herself out, after her tarot cards indicated he was with a woman. Boy or girl, Karen doesn’t quite trust Emile yet, and why should she? Emile really is concealing something pretty dang important to her roommate and colleague.

hund25

Hayato, Karen and Emile’s lunch is interrupted by Claire and her entourage, but not out of any kind of malice: Claire wants to make Hayato a slayer as soon as possible. Indeed, she kinda has to, as there’s currently a slayer shortage (a welcome reminder this peaceful city-ship is the exception, not the rule, in this world).

Hayato’s duel with Claire, and Emile’s surprising impromptu duel with Claire’s veep Liddy, somewhat mitigate the fact we haven’t seen anyone in grave danger in the first two episodes (at least in the present day). Emile shows she can hold her own against Liddy, but an alert sortie ends it without a decision.

Instead, Charlotte shows up out of nowhere and tells Hayato and Emile they’ll be going with Claire to Warslarn HQ, where his trial-by-fire will continue. Frankly, I’d be worried about his inability to control or even remember his overdrive powers, but hey…they need slayers.

16rating_7

Mekakucity Actors – 05

mek51

This episode started off a bit unjustly for Shintaro: he wakes up in a random bedroom (that turns out to be Marry’s) and Ene makes him strip before she’ll tell him anything, and that’s how the other Mekakushi Dan members find him: in his underwear, on Marry’s bed, staring at his phone. For that, he’s tied up and ridiculed. Where is the King’s Justice?

mek521

At any rate, Shintaro is part of something bigger now, whether he’d like to be or not; it’s either become a member or become a hostage, as he knows too much to be neither. It’s obviously a lot to take in for a shut-in meeting five new people all at once. This is also interestingly the first time we’re seeing Shintaro and Momo interacting as bro and sis, and it’s…adequate.

mek52

The entire episode was similarly adequate, filled mostly with sitting or walking around not doing much of anything, but couple new connections were made. When Shintaro went off on his own he bumps into a very memory-challenged Konoha, who spots Hibiya and Hiyori (who ISN’T dead!) getting kidnapped and acts instinctively with some pretty awesome superpowers.

mek54

We also learn that the founding commander of the Mekaushi Dan was Ayano—something Shintaro probably didn’t know. Between Shintaro’s (and Hibiya’s) “dreams” that involve her and the strange fairy-tail like stories about a monster girl that end each episode, there are still many mysteries left to solve.

7_ses

Mekakucity Actors – 04

mek41

As of last week seven of the nine “actors” were known to me, so it stood to reason the final two would be unveiled this week. They are Amamiya Hibiya and Konoha, and the episode unfolds almost exclusively from Hibiya’s perspective. He told a string of elaborate lies to his strict father to gain permission to travel to Tokyo to spend the summer with his friend and crush Asahina Hiyori.

mek42

Our first exposure to Hiyori is in Hibiya’s head, an ideal of the girl he loves. In reality, she inivited him to be her slave. Worse still, a third wheel—Konoha—ruins Hibiya’s hopes of being alone with her, and she falls in love with the older albino instantly. Hibiya is shown to be a capable, confident person, but allows Hiyori to run roughshod over him; ironic considering what happens in the episode’s very cryptic second half.

mek43

That’s when Hibiya goes to bed (with Hiyori fawning over Konoha deep into the night) and has a series of eerie, monochromatic nightmares in which he confronts Hiyori in a playground, but a black cat always comes between them and she ends up dead, no matter what he tries in the next “dream”, save the last one, when he pushes her out of the path of a speeding truck and gets hit himself.

mek44

But it’s not exactly clear what’s a dream and what’s reality. Hibiya seemed desperate to tell Hiyori how he felt about her on this summer trip, but his opportunities were ruined by her hostile attitude and the presence of Konoha, and it seems as though she died before he was able to do so. We’re sure future episodes will shine a little bit more light on the events that transpired here, but I must say I found the dreamy, morose atmosphere very absorbing.

8_ses

Mekakucity Actors – 03

mek31

After shifting, seemingly randomly, from Shintaro’s story to Momo’s, the show reveals that the events of the past two episodes preceded, then ran concurrently, with those of the first, only from fresh viewpoints. Therefore, the first three episodes comprise thee cohesive story of how the Kisaragi siblings met the Mekakushi-dan.

mek32

I thought this was very clever, and literally and figuratively filled-in the blanks on a first episode that seemed to be a bit too intentionally abstruse at times, while the second episode felt like the first of a series of episodic character portraits. This third episode ties everything together into a satisfying whole that also does a good job formally introducing seven of the nine members in the credits.

mek33

For their parts, the characters we saw hints of in the first episode make a far more lasting impression, and all of them own their roles well: Kido’s quiet angst; Kano’s incorrigible tricksterism; Seto’s affable calmness, and Marry’s clumsy vulnerability. They also all contribute their unique powers (all involving their eyes, which turn red when the powers are active) to the mission to save Momo’s bro.

mek34

Between invisible and super-visible girls, a girl who can stop people with her gaze, a guy who can read minds, and a guy who can make people see illusions, there’s plenty of power to go around. It’s not surprising that once they found each other they decided to form a group dedicated to watching each other’s backs; more family than gang, with a lot of nice interpersonal dynamics.

8_ses

Mekakucity Actors – 02

mek21

Mekakucity fields a large, color-coded cast of characters, and through two episodes has chosen to focus on one character at a time: Shintaro last week, his little sister Momo this week. But while the Shintaro episode didn’t delve too deeply into what made Shintaro tick, I got a far more intimate portrait of Momo’s psyche as the episode flitted between her past and present; her memory and imagination.

mek22

In a couple of comedic scenes that I felt hung around a little too long, we learn that Momo isn’t good at taking tests and really fears being held back. But part of her difficulties could be attributed to her ability to gather huge groups of people who center their attention on her, which is why she was recruited from a young age to become an idol. The particulars of her peculiar “curse” aren’t explained in depth, but the practical and psychological drawbacks are.

mek23

Put simply, Momo suffers from the same issues she did in school: an overabundance attention to her style. Because no one has any interest in the substance of her personality—only style—there are those who question its very existence; a doubt that seeps into her own thoughts. But just as Shintaro utilized his “curse” (Ene) to his advantage, Momo’s happiness, or at least sanity, may lie her ability to accept and embrace hers.

mek24

On the periphery of this episode other characters observe her from afar, suggesting her recruitment by the same organization that snagged her brother. Curses are often blessings as well; Shintaro and Momo are both blessed with potentially very useful skills to an organization aiming to do…er…whatever it is it’s aiming to do. Perhaps we’ll be filled in about that if and when the two siblings are…

7_ses