Gakusen Toshi Asterisk – 14

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I saved this episode for last today because (a.) I wanted to check out the Spring shows premiering today and (b.) with a big battle last week I had a feeling this was going to be a rest episode, and so it was. But it’s because AW has thirteen episodes behind its belt that it can do quieter second episodes like this that focus not so much on the upcoming battle with the Li twins, but on characters and longer-term plotlines.

But man, they really give Flora the floor early on this week, and her sqeaky voice is, to be frank, really frikking annoying. Seriously, if an anime needs a kid voice, they should really just hire Kuno Misaki, who sounds much more like a genuine kid; Flora’s seiyu is just doing a baby voice, and it’s baaad.

That being said, I liked the running idea of Julis’ mischievous brother using Flora as his instrument to indirectly embarrass the princess. As for Flora’s photo of Julis washing her hair, that’s just her own treasured memory…just not one suitable for Ayato to see! All the girls’ knowing looks toward Ayato when Flora brought up “Julis’ rivals” was also funny.

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Just a couple episodes ago, Ayato and Julis were locked in near-mortal combat with the Urzaiz sisters, but they came away from the battle as friends, which is why I so enjoyed Ayato’s nighttime Skype session with Priscilla and Irene. Irene in particular is one very adorable tomboy when she thanks Ayato for saving her life.

Naturally, Ayato says it’s no biggie…but it is, which is why not only is Priscilla want to cook dinner for him again, but Irene is willing to give Ayato all the intelligence he wants regarding her school’s president, Dirk “The Tyrant” Eberwein, including his control over Le Wolfe’s intel org Grimalkin.

In the morning, Ayato’s roommate returns after a long absence (seriously, I barely remember the guy), gives Ayato some advice on the Taoist Li Twins, and even suggests an out-of-the-way cafe for Ayato and Julis to go on their date, though Julis is emphatic that it’s Flora, not her, who requested the get-together.

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Flora presumably has something important she has to ask Ayato, but first Julis spoils her with a big meal and an even bigger parfait, showing her softer, kid-loving side (she’d make a great mom!).

Of course, not only does Flora inadvertently organize an indirect kiss between Ayato and Julis (which only Julis blushes about) but her ‘important questions’ were provided by Julis’ brother, and start with how far she’s gone with Ayato so far.

The fun is broken up by Korona, yet another new doll-like character with a high voice (though less annoying than Flora’s).

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Korona is Dirk’s secretary, and she leads Ayato and Julis (who won’t let Ayato go alone…probably a good call) to a custom Rolls-Royce Phantom limo where Dirk is waiting for them. It comes a slight surprise that Ayato and Dirk have never met, even though the latter has been plotting against the former and his school for some time.

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Too many times an anime cheaps out on car models, but in this case, AW got themselves a bitchin’ CGI Roller, and they aren’t shy about showing it off from several angles both in the sunset and in a tunnel. During the mobile meeting, Dirk takes the measure of Ayato and Julis and agrees to answer a question Ayato has if he’ll return the favor.

With a deal in place, Ayato asks what Dirk knows about his sister Haruka. Dirk knows precious little, but far more than Ayato: the last time he saw Haruka, she was an entrant in a seedy underground fight club for super-rich patrons called the Eclipse Festa, organized by those disillusioned with the ‘kid-glove’ nature of the official festas, but shut down years ago.

Dirk watched Haruka lose her match, but believes she survived (matches ending in a death or two weren’t uncommon). This gives Ayato simultaneous relief and pause. His sister may still be alive, but what state is she in? Dirk has no more answers; only his question, which relates to Madiath Mesa, who Ayato knows as Chairman of the Festa Steering Committee.

With that, Dirk drops Ayato and Julis off, after which Korona mentions Flora to Dirk, who is intrigued, likely because she can be exploited as a liability to Julis if and when the need arises to have leverage over her. Always churning, the Tyrant’s mind.

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Top 10 Car Cameos of 2012

In no particular order, here are some of the more interesting car cameos we’ve spotted in all the anime we’ve watched this year. We’re unsure as to the real car content of Winter 2012 series, and to be perfectly honest, we haven’t been Johnny-on-the-spot as we’d like with every cameo in every episode, but we’re only human-youkai hybrids. But this post isn’t about regrets, it’s about the celebration of horseless automotivation!

The Principal’s Ferrari F40Girls und Panzer – 02
Later in the series, we learn that Ooarai is in financial trouble and will be shut down due to a lack of accomplishments. Apparently that pain isn’t being felt by the principal, who is wealthy enough to afford one of only 1,315 F40 supercars ever built. In an act of prescient karmic retribution, it is flipped then crushed by Chouno Ami’s surprise tank-drop.

Shrade’s Ferrari CaliforniaAquarion Evol – 07
Shrade is by all accounts a very privileged, cultured young man who comes from money. As such, he drives a red Ferrari despite still being in high school, and tailgates fellow travelers of the road, to boot. “Out of my way, PEASANTS!”

Evangeline Yamamoto’s VW New Beetle Zetsuen no Tempest – 03
Evangeline is friendly, cute, and curvy on the surface, but all business underneath. So too is her tomato-red Volkswagen New Beetle (let’s make it a Turbo, because why not?), which is really just a Golf in retro clothes.

Malloy’s Lancia Delta HF Integrale 16v Evoluzione II  – Aquarion Evol – 15
Like we said when we saw it, it’s probably no coincidence that this same, very specific model of car has shown up both here and in another one of Shoji Kawamori’s works, Macross Frontier. No matter where it shows up, it’s one of our all-time favorite cars.

Ao’s Flying Piaggio ApeEureka Seven AO – 01
Okay, it’s not exactly an Ape (Italian for Bee), but it’s pretty clearly inspired by it. Not quite a car, not quite a motorbike, but damned practical all the same. Making one that can fly is the next logical step.

Sakura Ichiko’s Rolls-Royce Silver Shadow – Binbougami-ga! – 01
It’s only seen in for a moment as Ichiko is dropped off at school, but it’s the perfect car for her: something not to drive, but to be driven in, and ruinously expensive.

Mayor Bacchus’ Toyota CenturyMirai Nikki – 19
Bacchus travels in style in perhaps the quirkiest executive car money can buy: a brand-new car that looks thirty years old. It’s still hella cool.

Mr. Tatsuji’s Volvo 240 WagonAnother – 12
Aside from the fact that old boxy Volvo wagons are the mainstay of educators (and cool moms), there’s a certain morbid irony in a Tatsuji driving a car that’s the paragon of safety in a series where no almost no one is safe from a grisly death.

Koko’s Armored Volvo S80Jormungand
We can’t remember if she called it by name (she gave up on “V” trying to name a new car she bought for Ugo, which was incidentally a VW), but one thing’s for sure: while other arms dealers roll in Mercs and BMWs, Koko prefers Swedish Volvo S80s, and while she had to grudgingly abandon one in South Africa, it wasn’t long before she procured another.

Unyuu Rintarou’s Car Collection – Sket Dance – 74
Student Council Treasurer Unyuu Mimori’s family has more money than many developed nations. Among her father’s many possessions is a formidable collection of model cars, along with a collection of the real things. It’s an eclectic, even eccentric mix…but that’s par for the course when you own an underground city. Also, it’s apparent the cars in this episode were hand-drawn, with no shortcut CGI; a nice touch.

BONUS: All of the Background Traffic in K – 01 
It may take teams of video editors years to discover every car cameo in the shiny first episode of K, but it’s not just the volume of vehicles, it’s the quality of the models. They’re shiny, detailed, not all the same color, and add a lot of richness to the background. Sure, they’re mostly CGI models that may have been modeled by a third party and inserted in the animation, but when they’re this pretty, who cares?