Bunny Girl Senpai – 03 – Facing the Atmosphere

Sakuta doesn’t wake up at 6 in the morning, because he never slept in the first place, while Mai sleeps soundly. It starts a string of days Sakuta doesn’t sleep, because as he soon learns upon returning to school, everyone there has forgotten her except his sciency friend Futaba and himself—neither of whom got any sleep last night.

It isn’t murder by Freddy in his nightmares Sakuta fears, but the prospect of forgetting Mai. So he stays up, under the pretense of cramming for exams. The next day, Futaba has slept, and forgets Mai, all but making it official. The bags under his eyes grow larger and darker as he pops stims, chugs “Blue Bull”, but Mai picks up on what’s going on.

One night, during an ostensible study session, Mai slips sleeping pills in his drink, and then strokes his head as he slowly, gradually loses consciousness, tears forming in her eyes as she comes to terms with the fact he may not remember her when he wakes up.

That brings us to the opening moments of the first episode, when Sakuta finds the notebook painstakingly detailing his past self’s experiences with Mai. But when he inspects the book, all of the instances of Mai’s name appear blank, leading him to believe it’s a notebook full of wishful thinking.

While the notebook alone fails to jog his memory, it paves the first stone. He gets another when Futaba shows him the notes her past self wrote to herself, surmising that the collective effort of the school, and indeed the rest of the world, to utterly fail to confirm Mai’s existence, could possibly be overridden by a sufficiently powerful confirmation of her existence…i.e., a confession of love.

The final stimulus that brings the memories of Mai rushing back, like water from an unclogged faucet, is a question in the exam that deals with the characters for “security” and “guarantee”; he remembers Mai’s finger pointing them out, and from them on, he knows what he needs to do…and that is to make a complete and utter fool of himself, by running out into the schoolyard and screaming at the top of his lungs that he loves Sakurajima Mai.

He yells himself hoarse, but it has an effect: the other students begin to remember Mai. Then Mai herself appears to share in the humiliation, but also to slap Sakuta for breaking his promise never to forget her, which he definitely did, if only briefly.

If the school was a box and Mai the cat, Sakuta’s bold actions broke the logical stalemate, declaring once and for all that yes, Sakurajima Mai exists, and he loves her. The “atmosphere” of unconscious ignorance of the collective student body was overcome, and thus the “world regained” Mai. She insists Sakuta continue to tell her he loves her as often as possible so that she knows he’s sincere.

From the emotional lows of Mai willingly saying goodbye to the exhausted Sakuta to the highs of him remembering her again their reunion in the yard, this was a roller coaster of an episode; Bunny Girl Senpai’s best outing yet. Was his public outburst corny? You betcha…but that’s the point!

In order to “bring her back”, he had to step out of the flow and do something no one else did. A stern talking-to from the faculty is well worth it, because Mai will be getting one right beside him. So far BGS is smart, clever, mature, and engaging romantic comedy done right.

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Bunny Girl Senpai – 02 – Can You See Me? Can You Hear Me?

Sakuta buys Mai some food, and she rewards him by taking his arm in hers. However, they’re still technically “having a fight,” so it’s not all Cloud Nineness. He asserts she’s not being honest with herself about wanting to get back to showbiz, and reveals he knows why, and she slaps him.

But he’s right: it’s not showbiz she hates; it’s her manager/mom, who forced her still middle-aged daughter to pose in a swimsuit against her will. She’s used that to try to justify her hiatus, but in her heart she wants to keep working…it could even be why she’s now invisible to everyone.

Mai intends to spend one of her last precious Sundays out of showbiz with Sakuta in Kamakura, something she insists isn’t a date but puhleeeeze. Sakuta will surely be on time, but he encounters a lost child, then a busybody who mistook him for a pedo, and then the two have to go to the police station to explain why he was kicking her in the ass (because she kicked him first).

It’s quite a story, and so out there it almost couldn’t be made up, and Mai decides to believe that’s why he was over an hour and a half late (she also lied about bailing if he was only one minute late).

While on the train, Sakuta tells Mai why he’s helping her and won’t give up on her; because there was once someone who didn’t give up on him, and he wants to be for Mai what Makinohara Shouko was to him…even if there’s no record of Shouko ever existing except in his memories.

Mai brings Sakuta along on a quick errand to properly inform her mother of her impending change of agencies, but her “Adolescence Syndrome” has advanced so far her own mother can neither see nor hear her. And it’s worse: neither she nor anyone else has the slightest clue who Sakurajima Mai is; not even the announcer who promised not to publish his chest scar.

This starts Sakura on a quest to find out if anyone still remembers her, a quest on which she tags along to a faraway town. There, they check into a cramped business hotel room, and as Mai showers, Sakuta starts calling people. Finally, he learns that his classmates at the high school still remember Mai. Futaba promises to look into it.

After a quick trip to the store to buy Mai new underwear the two awkwardly share the tiny bed. Mai gives Sakuta an opportunity to steal her first kiss, but the window closes. She asks what he’d do if she broke down and cried about not wanting to disappear, he tells her he’d hold and comfort her and tell her it would be alright. Before bidding him good night, she thanks him for not giving up on her.

So far Bunny Girl has been a focused and compelling budding romance, albeit involving a guy with the distinct advantage of being the proverbial “last guy on earth”—though that’ll change if/when they return to the school where some still know her. The clever and playful banter between Mai and Sakuta is a constant joy, and I really felt what they must feel at times: like the two of them are all there is in their world, and maybe all there needs to be.

Dimension W – 11

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With KK captured, Yuri neutralized, and Chrysler disabled by Loser, one would hope things would start to simplify towards the end, but this second-to-last episode does not comply with that hope.

Rather, it is very quickly descending into the anime version of tl;dr: tc;dc, or too complicated; don’t care. No one can say DW doesn’t have enough stuff going on in the frame, but the problem is so little of it matters; it’s all had a numbing effect on me.

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I’m glad the surviving collectors are more or less working together now, or at least looking out for each other, but there are still way too many of them and I simply don’t care about the vast majority of them.

Another problem is that as our people draw closer to the story’s conclusion, the general nebulousness and wishy-washy technobabble-as-plot becomes more exposed and more problematic.

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There’s plenty of cool imagery and action, but this episode was often choked with lengthy explanations from all sides. At some point it all kinda sounds the same and becomes a sparkly-yet-muddled mess.

The fact that Kyouma and Mira are able to enter and observe Loser’s memories of the events that led up to the calamity on the island lose a lot of their gravity due to the utterly boring, shallow, generic mad scientisty evil of Seameyer.

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Seameyer’s evil and cruel for the sake of evil and cruelty, and it doesn’t elicit much more than an apathetic shrug. And we know even if he (and the giant robo-monster he somehow turned Sophia into…don’t even ask) are defeated, the bigger problem of what to do about the Genesis coil is the true conflict here. Seameyer is just taking up space.

But the thing is, Genesis is even more generic and nondescript as Seameyer. At least he has some semblance of a personality (he’s a dick); Genesis is naught but an all-powerful MacGuffin; a Holy Grail/God Machine that isn’t safe in anyone’s hands.

I regret to report that my enthusiasm for Dimension W, and my optimism for a strong finale, have dwindled significantly in this, the home stretch, but I’ll watch it to completion nonetheless.

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Musaigen no Phantom World – 07

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Aaaaaand I think I’ve about had my fill of Phantom World! It’s a show with lush visuals beyond reproach that for some reason seems intent on out-twee-ing and out-moe-ing itself with each passing week. This week, which opens with the seventeen-millionth adoption of Schrodinger’s Cat in an anime (and presented as if it’s being used for the first time), and devolves from there, was the breaking point.

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When the kitten of one of Kurumi’s friends goes missing, everyone at school starts acting like, then slowly transforming into, cats. Due to Haruhiko’s pre-OP explanation, we knew this was what was happening, but it still takes the crew, including Haruhiko himself, one entire half of the episode to figure it out.

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Look, the sight of a whole school of students curling up and napping, or Mai and Reina stretching like felines, or getting excited by fish or toys is cute and all, but there isn’t any substance to any of it. It’s just pure eye candy, and the characters are just along for the ride. I frankly just couldn’t roll with it this time.

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Their investigations, if you want to call it that, lead them to a bizarrely abandoned mansion near the school (why?) and the gang ends up hopelessly lost, their senses inundated with confusingly trippy scenes. These visuals would be a lot more engaging if there was anything profound behind them, but it seems the artists just wanted to draw cool stuff, and stuffed it all into this episode with a cat theme slapped on.

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They finally determine the entire mansion is a giant cat-house phantom, which is manifested in a form lifted straight out of Howl’s Moving Castle. How does the lost and quickly catifying group overcome this phantom? All too easily and neatly, unfortunately. Kurumi literally meows at it to give up the kitten in drew in, and the phantom just kinda vanishes, apparently satisfied…for some reason. It sure went through a lot of trouble only to fold like a cheap catsuit!

This was a mansion owned by a wealthy couple that loved cats, and after they died, you expect me to believe their valuable property was simply left to rot? Why wasn’t the building inherited by someone, or fall into public trust or something? How is it they’re able to clean the place up so quickly, when it had sat abandoned and dilapidated for years? You expect me to believe some mops and elbow grease will fix the foundation, wiring, plumbing, etc.?

You see, I’m so disenchanted with this show, I’m resorting to bestowing unfairly lofty expectations of practical logic on it. Definitely time to say so long and thanks for all the fish.

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Ushinawareta Mirai wo Motomete – 05

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What’s almost as annoying as a TV show or movie employing the “humans only use 10% of their brain” trope? A TV show or movie mentioning the Schrödinger’s Cat thought experiment as if it was the first to do so. Regardless of their scientific efficacy, both concepts are simply played out in entertainment, bordering on buzz terms.

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Don’t get me wrong; Schrödinger’s Cat is a very cool thought experiment, and it’s not like it turned me off the episode, which tossed a lot of other concepts for us to chew on, like the brane-world, strings, eleven dimensions, gravitons, cause and effect, etc. Clearly, the writers had spent an hour in the science section of the library (or wikisurfing). It was also an episode that started with the effect and then preceded to lay out the cause, as well as creep ever closer towards the Big Central Mystery that still endures. The precise temporal flow of the show remains unfixed and elusive. This is not a bad thing.

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When the Gardening Club chases the Survival Club for damaging flowers with paintballs, they cause a collision between Airi (minding her own business) and the student council, causing the destruction of three computers. Nagisa then secures the Computer Club’s machines by outwitting their experimental AI system.  It shows how random and intricate a set of events can get to lead to an Astronomy Club “job”, which only four members participate in, leaving Kaori alone with Yui in the clubroom so Kaori can ask Yui about Sou as well as why she’s keeping such a protective eye on her.

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Kaori doesn’t get much in the way of straight answers, except that Yui sees Sou as a “father.” What could that possibly mean? The episode also cuts ever so enticingly briefly to the dark lab where a girl is suspended in stasis while a scientist is hunched over a terminal bearing notes of the same concepts the teacher mentioned at school. Where, or when is this place, and who’s in that damned tube? I want to know these things.

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Kaori…the only character who’s been shown as both dead and alive … like Schrödinger’s Cat! And the episode closes with another example of causality, in which an already uneasy Kaori gets a call from her mother that she won’t be home that night, which means Kaori and Sou are alone for the night, and Kaori pays a visit to Sou’s room with her pillow.

Her first assertion of her feelings for him came under different circumstances; this has the makings of another attempt. If that’s what it is, could confessing lead to her death by other means, as well? Is this a cycle Yui is there to try to break? This is an average-looking show at best, but all these enticing mysteries are keeping me engaged.

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