Hinamatsuri – 12 (Fin) – Losing Your Balls is Snow Big Deal

Hinamatsuri ends on a hell of a high note, with two stories that while not very closely connected to one another, nevertheless ruled so hard. We pick up on Hina, Hitomi, and their two male classmates’ predicament of being lost in the snowy mountains. With Hitomi in charge, they soon have an igloo built, but unless they get help, they could die up there. Hina takes a rather casual view of their sitch (the “snow big deal” being a pun she seems particularly proud of)…until they tell her there’s no food.

Right then and there, Hina decides that this is one of those times when her telekinetic powers will be needed, and commits to finding a way to get fed rescued. She goes out to fly around and finds a light, but when she tells the others her secret, they think the cold has gotten to her. She eliminates all doubt by floating before them, then making Hitomi float.

The kids take this well, most likely because in as dire a situation as they are, she’s their only hope, and, well, she’s not crazy, her powers are real. After they try to recharge her powers by attempting to create the illusion of being in a cafe that serves ikura rolls, she makes a giant one out of snow.

A rescue helicopter easily spots the sculpture, and is extremely confused by it, but not so confused they crash! Hina and the others are picked up, and the next we see her, she’s safe in a hospital bed with a very relieved Nitta by her side. His nonchalance to the phone call about Hina was just putting on a tough-guy act; he really does care about her.

After that, and a montage of everyone in the city going on with their lives, we jump three years into the future and across the western sea to China, where Mao has lived and trained with a martial arts school. When she first arrived by raft, she scrapped together a living on the streets much as Anzu did, until taken in by the martial arts school’s master.

The rockstar dude who Hina once performed saw Mao’s feats of telekinesis on YouTube and has come along with many others to “learn the secrets”, even if it’s just a sham to sell regular old martial arts training. Mao is also still talking to handmade dolls representing Hina and Anzu.

Just when she was getting restless living such a regimented life as the golden goose for opportunist martial artists. Rocky reveals that he knows Hina, the girl with the same blue hair as her doll. Mao is overjoyed she finally has a lead.

Her handlers don’t want her going anywhere, however, so they chase her into the street and attempt to apprehend her. That’s when Hinamatsuri turns into a straight-up martial arts action show, with some of the best animation of the entire series as Mao takes down her ochre-suited opponents one-on-one and all at once.

While the latest-introduced and least utilized magic girl, with her Cast Away episode and now this extended segment, Mao has definitely had some pretty awesome adventures that have allowed her to efficiently demonstrate what a badass she is (as if we needed any reminders). It’s the best fight since Hina took on the whole of the rival yakuza organization.

Their master agrees to let Mao go with Rocky to Japan…if she can defeat a “metal man” that’s basically two rapidly spinning shafts no ordinary human could ever stop or even slow down, lest they get pulverized. Mao stops the thing dead with her powers, but makes sure to make it look like she used her martial arts to do it, positioning her arm and leg right where she stopped the shafts.

Her handlers buy it, and she and Rocky are off on a plane. Rocky to help Mao open new branches of the school (another stipulation of her release), and Mao so she can report to Ikuruga about losing the transport balls, and, more importantly, be reunited with her friends Hina and Anzu.

Things end so abruptly that I suspect the adventures of Mao, Hina, Anzu, Hitomi, Nitta, and the others aren’t over. I certainly hope not, anyway. A second season would be most welcome, especially if the show continues to be inventive in how it uses both the girls’ superhuman powers…and their humanity.

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Space Dandy 2 – 07

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I knew a rock-and-roll themed Space Dandy was inevitable. Dandy possesses all the qualities necessary to be a rock star…other than success. What we didn’t see coming was that this kind of story would involve the peripheral ongoing conflict between the Gogol and Jaicro Empires, let alone be the thing that prevents a hellish interstellar war between the two.

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But that’s simply Space Dandy’s knack for making clever connections between big and small happenings in the show. The flapping of a butterfly’s wings—or in this case, the flapping of Johnny D and Dandy’s gums—ends up saving the universe. Of course, the fact that Johnny D’s day job is Commander-in-Chief of the Jaicro Empire, and that he’d give it all up to be a gen-u-wine rock star, also played a role.

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While Dandy is looking for fame and fortune in the usual way, Johnny D already has both in his other life, but it’s not enough. Dandy humming in the men’s room, of all things leads to the two starting a band. But both Dandy’s laziness and Johnny’s already-established status lead to the two doing everything a band does…other than making actual music.

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As a parody of the rock star lifestyle influenced by other rock star lifestyles, this is pretty effective. It’s pretty funny watching the two argue with each other about all the minutiae that doesn’t actually matter until a band is established. But if you’re already an intergalactic generalissimo, or already have the lovely Honey sprawled out on your table, delusions of grandeur are inevitable.

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Lucky for Dandy and Johnny, while they debate sticker-vs.-pennant (pennant?), Meow and QT actually practice their instruments and are ready to go when it’s time to actually rock and roll. Johnny spends untold days atop a playground slide waiting for a masterpiece to “descend upon him”, and the sounds of the city eventually put a catchy Police-style riff in his head.

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Their first gig is typically pathetic first gig, and it’s pretty comical how their song is only that one-measure riff repeated ad nauseum; but “Dropkix” end up get a reputation for boisterous gigs which end with some kind of fight or explosion or both. This catches the attention of a music industry bigwig, who books them for SPACE BUDOKAN.

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Everything is better with “SPACE” attached, and their first big concert doesn’t disappoint. At first, Johnny D flakes out because his Empire’s big assault is the same day as the concert, and he puts duty before dreams. But then he arrives at the last minute, climbing out of a lion’s head embedded in his giant space mecha looming over the stadium. What an entrance!

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They finally start playing music, and the song is not bad and quite catchy, if simple in lyrics. The two start competing again, leading to a mixture of flames and water and lightning that destroy the venue and Johnny’s mecha. But while it was their first and last big show, it did avert a war, so while Dandy will be back to alien-hunting next week, the universe came out on top.

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