Akame ga Kill! – 19

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Before the big assault on Borick in Kyoroch, Najenda has Susanoo prepare all of Night Raid’s favorite dishes. In addition to being super-colorful and mouth-watering, it demonstrates one of AGK’s strengths: no matter what’s ahead, it doesn’t skimp on cute little family moments like this, keeping things from getting too stiff.

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It also doesn’t skimp on richly-detailed city shots. I want to live there. And because Najenda knows a frontal assault against Esdeath and the Jaegers would be folly, she spreads her remaining assassins around in pairs, forcing Esdeath to do the same while not knowing which pair is going after Borick, whose death will signal the Revolutionary Army to begin moving.

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This splitting-up results in a host of excellent matchups, the best being Tatsumi and Mine, who have really gelled in the last few weeks since losing Chelsea, and despite their childish bickering they do their part in Najenda’s plan, luring Suzuka (the last remaining Rakshasa demon) and Seryu.

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Let’s get Tatsumi’s fight with Suzuka out of the way first, not because it wasn’t a good fight, but because it wasn’t the Main Event here. Despite being a little slip of a thing, Suzuka is hard as nails and pretty quick, to boot. But like the other demons, she’s just not quite up to snuff against a Night Raid member, and writes checks she can’t cash. Tatsumi corners her in a temple where she thinks she’ll have the advantage, but then he uses Incursio to tear the whole damn building down, smashing her with rubble.

Night Raid 1, Empire 0.

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On to what everyone came to see: Mine v. Seryu Ubiquitous II. This fight had huge emotional significance for both parties: Mine doesn’t want any other kids growing up the way she had to, and Seryu wants to purge all evil (as she sees it) from the empire. More personally, Mine wants revenge for the deaths of Sheele and later Chelsea, and Seryu for Ogre and Dr. Stylish. These two ladies do not like each other.

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Seryu, armed with both Coro and Ten Kings, brings the pain early with a furiously elaborate bombardment, but Mine’s Pumpkin is able to neutralize such ridiculous attacks easily by reason of them putting Mine in such a bind. Even when Coro coughs up an ICBM, one shot from Pumpkin blows it up.

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Mine gets into even more trouble when Seryu ditches the weapons and simply beats the shit out of her with her fists. Both sides basically take a timeout to catch their breath, and Mine uses this time to remind herself she can’t die here until she’s created a fair, truly just world for all. She gets up, dusts herself off, and destroys Coro with Pumpkin as he’s lunging at her. With Mine’s weapon powered by her emotions, the unhinged, overpowered Seryu was her ideal opponent.

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Speaking of unhinged, when Seryu knows her time is up, she switches on what seems to be a small nuclear bomb hidden in her body to take an exhausted Mine out. She’s saved from the apocalyptic blast by Tatsumi at the last nanosecond. Like her Pumpkin, Tatsumi came through for her right when she needed him most.

Night Raid 2, Empire 0.

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For that, Mine drops the tsundere act (at least temporarily) and thanks Tatsumi with a heart-melting moonlit smile. She later tells him she needs to talk to him when the battles are over and the Empire is overthrown. Obviously, she wants to confess to him, and makes him promise he’ll survive until then. Yes, folks, that’s another Death Flag in a show peppered with them, but I won’t let that kill my dream of a happy ending for these two, after both have lost so much and fought so hard. Especially when Tatsumi and Esdeath are probably over as a couple.

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Meanwhile, back in Kyoroch, Susanoo and Leone infiltrate the lobby and take out Kurome’s last corpse puppets, leaving her vulnerable. Enter Wave, ever the least evil of the Jaegers, just trying to protect his injured little sis. Susanoo doesn’t blow him away this time, but what neither he nor Kurome fail to understand is that Night Raid isn’t looking to destroy them, just divert and delay them.

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That’s because the pair who ends up finding Borick and taking him out is that of Akame and Lubbock. Night Raid 3, Empire 0. Esdeath, never particularly concerned with Borick’s safety, let him out of her sight. We also finally get a present-day chat between Esdeath and Najenda, with the latter all but admitting she was outmaneuvered, thanks to all of Night Raid’s tricks, feints, and sneaking around. This was not a good day for Esdeath or the Empire. But even though Night Raid achieved its main objective, things are only going to get tougher from now on.

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Akame ga Kill! – 18

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This was another episode full of bloody, bruising, hard-hitting battles…just not involving the people we expected. When arriving at Kyoroch, where the religious organization Minister Honest is trying to take over is headquartered, Night Raid doesn’t encounter the Jaegers, but an entirely new group of assassins called the Four Koukenji Rakshasa Demons (FKRD). By the end of the episode, three of the four are dead.

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That might make it seem like their introductions were somewhat over-hyped and ultimately pointless, almost like filler, but for the execution of the battles themselves was fun enough to justify their short appearance. Also, something tells me the fourth is stronger than the others. Speaking of storng, Kurome somehow survived and forced herself back into action, worried she’ll be “discarded” if she’s unable to fight. Wave looks after her like a worried big bro, and I have to say, as evil as I know her to be, Kurome gets some pity points from me this week; she’s in rough shape.

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Kurome’s sister, on the other hand, has no problem stylishly dealing with the contortionist Rakshasa Demon called Ibara, who’s all talk at the end of the day. Akame defeats him by letting him take her Masamune blade, which reacts unfavorably to him, giving her an opening to break his neck with her legs then slice off all his limbs. Night Raid 1, FKRD 0.

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Unfortunately, Akame’s battle was watched closely by the angel-winged Run, who merely smiles, gloats, and flies off. Run is the only Jaeger whose battle skills we’ve yet to see, but I’m sure it’s only a matter of time before we do. I’m interested to see who’ll be facing him, and whether anything will come of earlier scenes which seemed to suggest he’s not 100% loyal to Esdeath.

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Akame is awesome as usual, but this week we also got to see Lubbock and his extremely versatile threat arms in action, which makes it only the second or third time he’s done anything. Because we’ve lost a few Night Raiders already, and episodes sometimes strive for good guy/bad guy casualty balance, the stakes were higher than usual, as this could have also been Lubbock’s last fight. Mez and Sten look like tough customers, after all, and two is always better than one, right?

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Well, yeah, but not if Sten rushes after a retreating Lubbock on his own, rushing right into Lubbock’s thread spear, whose threads find his heart and pop it like a balloon. Mez ends up all alone, and takes Lubbock’s thrown daggers as a desperate last resort. Of course, Lubbock is all about playing possum, the weakling, and the casanova; the daggers are connected to threads, and when he pulls them back they go into the cute but unfortunately evil Mez’s back. Night Raid 3, FKRD 0. One demon to go.

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Meanwhile, Tatsumi and Mine are paired up for the first time in a while, to seek out the cult founder the empire is trying to replace. Akame and Lubbocks battles diverted the FKRD from them, and they’re free to taste the local ice cream and bicker like an old married couple about who’s more shallow. This may seem silly — and it is — but when keeping in mind Tatsumi just lost another comrade in Chelsea, humorous distractions are welcome. The founder arrives in the middle of their lovers’ quarrel, and determines the two should just confess to each other already.

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And yes, in case you were wondering, the guy trying to replace the cult’s founder is, like SUPER religious and stuff. Here he is about to engage in a highly sacred and spiritual ritual with a new recruit. Why on earth would you possibly want to assassinate a charmer like this?

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Golden Time – 03

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The “club” that invited Tada and Kaga to a retreat turns out to be a religious cult. Tada pretends to be interested in order to get Kaga and those who want to leave out of there. However, Kaga stays, and they escape together into the woods. Once they’ve lost their pursuers, they sit down for a rest, both claiming responsibility for getting them into that mess. They end up learning a lot more about each other. They see strange lights ahead of them, and then a flashlight is shone on them, belonging to none other than Linda.

The series continues the practice of placing Tada and Kaga into scenarios common to young adults at college, only with the intensity stepped up. As soon as we saw the “club” members roll up wearing creepy identical tracksuits and snowflake pendants (The Cult of White Album?), we knew Tada and Kaga were in for a long three days and two nights in a remote area with no cell service (There were no cell phones in the original White Album. Hmmm…). We liked how Tada shrewdly used the true story of his post-accident identity loss to stay on the cult’s good side just long enough. Even better, Kaga picked up on his plan and foiled it, not wanting to leave him behind.

The cult adventure doesn’t start out all that pleasant, but ends up being an able vehicle for further cultivating Tada and Kaga’s increasingly intriguing friendship. Tada likes Kaga, but Kaga remains very much devoted to Mitsuo (fittingly absent this week). Kaga’s happiness is more important to Tada than winning her from Mitsuo (at the moment), so he tells her what she wants to hear, while suggesting she modify her approach with Mitsuo. The more interesting part was when Tada tells Kaga the very frightening story of how his past self is basically gone. But Kaga’s reactions made us wonder: did she already know that past Tada? If so, that opens a whole new can of worms.

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Rating: 8 
(Great)

 

 

Suisei no Gargantia – 11

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Commander Kugel orders Ensign Ledo to report to him immediately, and he obeys. At the same time, the fleet Kugel came with demands Pinion meet with them for negotiations. Kugel, confined to his cockpit, was able to take command of the fleet and has reordered society to maximize efficiency. Rukkage picks Pinion up, and after solving a aptitude puzzle, Kugel’s Machine Caliber, Striker, convinces him to combine his fleet with Kugel’s. Kugel’s acolytes immediately begin splitting up the Flange fleet boat by boat. Kugel unveils his next “awareness strategy” to Ledo: the target will be Gargantia.

“Maybe I never should have left my cockpit,” Ledo says, once Chamber and Striker calmly, cooly tell him how things will be going down now that Commander Kugel is in the picture. While Ledo left the cockpit, made friends, and developed a sympathy for the natives, Kugel has remained in his cockpit the whole time, whether because of his “endemic disease”, his desire to inspire awe in his followers with a shroud of mystery, or to maintain emotional distance from this world and its inhabitants. He believes mankind’s survival depends on him and Ledo teaching these humans how to defend themselves. That’s meant adopting a pseudo-religious cult of personality (since, with his technology, it’s not exactly hard), and fundamentally re-ordering the society of the fleet he’s taken command of to function like a military entity rather than a city or family.

There is no money, but intricate social gradation based upon individual skills. “Happiness” is rather laughably defined as “the realization of a circumstance in which the individual renders service to the entire group and the cost-benefit performance of that is at the greatest efficiency.” As a result, there are some in Kugel’s fleet who live well, and some who don’t get enough food, but it’s all deemed “fair.” The weak serve the strong and everyone’s eyes are on the same prize. Faced with Kugel, Pinion and Flange have no choice but to surrender, and things are starting to look very bad very quickly. When Ridget mentioned to Amy that Gargantia’s fleet will soon be passing close to Pinion’s, who could have guessed that’ll mean sailing straight into hell?

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Rating: 8 
(Great)

Stray Observations:

  • Rukkage has taken a pragmatic approach, joining Kugel and escorting Pinion around. But she definitely has some kind of plan up her sleeves.
  • Just to twist the knife, the footage of Gargantia Kugel shows Ledo just happens to include an extended close-up of a happy Amy.
  • We know that Ledo already has second thoughts about returning to Kugel’s command…but we just don’t know how in the hell he’s going to stop Kugel from destroying Gargantia, especially with just two episodes left!
  • That awesome map up top lets count every ship in the Gargantia (>150), Pinion (~50), and Kugel (>150) fleets.