Classroom of the Elite – 05

Ayanokouji is a very well-studied observer of human behavior. He doubtless knows every one of the quotes that provide the titles for each episode; this one being “Hell is other people”, from Sartre’s “No Exit”.

Ayano observes that other people are indeed hell for his potential star witness Sakura Airi: he notices that while Kushida is able to easily invade people’s personal space, Sakura resists her, nullifying whatever power Kushida has over the vast majority of people.

(Naturally, Horitika is also immune to her charms, while Ayano knows her true identity, so throw in Sakura and Kushida is far from invincible.)

Luck is on Ayano’s side, however, as a trip to the electronics store with Sakura and Kushida ends up providing him the opportunity to show Sakura that not all other people are Hell; or at least that she can trust him.

Because Ayano is simply being Ayano (at least the one we know) and nothing else, Sakura’s intuition doesn’t see deception, while her reticence around Kushida suggests it does detect hers.

All of this is to say that Sakura takes Ayano’s advice to “do what she wants” and agrees to testify in the Sudo case; it shows that despite her (quite sensible) hiding of her secret—a sexy modelling side-gig—Sakura has a strong sense of justice, like Ayano, and her gut is telling her to listen to it, even if it means going through Hell (i.e., other people).

COURTROOM of the Elite  takes over in short order, and has all the makings of a show trial, with the Class C victims and their partially self-inflicted injuries given all the benefit of the doubt because, well, Sudo doesn’t have a scratch on him, and is a short-tempered asshole to boot.

If a summary “guilty” verdict is to be avoided, someone has to come to Sudo’s defense. But because Horikita’s brother the President (her kryptonite) is attending the trial, she freezes, completely losing all composure and confidence, and Ayano has to pinch her in her side in order to restore her to coherence.

It works, and she immediately begins the work of wearing down the credibility of three guys who weren’t looking for a fight all ending up injured. When they simply rebut with the correct assertion that Sudo often defies common sense, she whips out her Sakura Card.

We’ve only just met Sakura Airi, and yet there I was, so proud of her, and hopeful that I’d be as strong and brave in the situation in which she chose to be, exposing her revealing photos in order to establish why she was using her camera, before providing another photo of the fight itself, proving she was there…but not proving who instigated the fight.

Sakura Airi’s boss witnessing got Team Sudo past Level 1, but it doesn’t look like she’ll play a further role in helping to ease the burden of proof where who started it is concerned. But her good work also gave the defense a way out: Class C’s homeroom teacher offers a compromise, which is really more of a plea-out: only a two-week suspension for Sudo and one-week for his students.

But that plea requires that Sudo plead guilty, and we’re at least operating under the assumption that as awful and destructive as he is, he didn’t start the fight. So the offer is rejected. Instead, Horikita doesn’t hold back in her harsh and completely accurate assessment of Sudo’s attitude problems, and posits that Class C aimed to exploit those problems by setting him up.

Her brother, perhaps more impressed than he’d admit by his sister’s performance thus far (after a shaky start he probably thought was par for the course), will allow another day’s time for each party to prove their innocence or the other party’s guilt. He then raises the stakes, as one does in courtroom dramas: if they fail, expulsion is on the table.

This was a dense, thrilling outing of Elite Classroom that made me an immediate fan of Sakura, and a continued fan of Ayanokouji, Kushida, and Horikita. That Sakura won Sudo’s defense team more time makes me confident that they’ll find a way to clear his name and show up Horikita’s brother.

Classroom of the Elite – 04

Oh man, that elevator trip…so awkward…so much going on beneath the surface! To her credit, Kushida doesn’t break from her usual character once, not just there, but for the entire episode. It’s simply a given that she and Ayanokouji have this dark secret, and they have a deal, and he’ll honor it or else. We also never learn where Horitika stabbed him.

Everyone seems to be hiding the truth, both from others and from themselves. The truth seems like such a distant, unattainable thing now. And yet they must press on, and put one foot in front of the other. That pressing-on includes Ayanokouji moonlighting as reluctant romantic adviser to Class B’s idol, Ichinose Honami.

Still, the kid knows what he’s talking about, and talks to Ichinose about how someone in love suffers with trying to get the words out. Is he speaking from experience? In any case, he rejects her plan to make him her fake boyfriend (rightly so considering what an old cliche that is) and tells her The Truth is best. The girl who likes her is able to come out and confess, and Ichinose is able to gently reject her so that girl can move on.

That’s the end of act one, and while it may feel like a self-contained “mission” for Ayanokouji, in addition to the themes about hidden truths resonating in act two, Ichinose also incurs a debt to Ayanokouji that she intends to pay back. That will come in handy in act two, in which Sudou fucks up again, exposing the class to forfeiture of points.

The latest incident is another hidden truth: we don’t know what happened, just that Sudou was confronted by three Class C basketball players, and a fight ensued. He claims self-defense. Meanwhile, the incident has piqued Horikita’s brother’s interest, while at the club, one of Sudou’s accusers, Ryuen Kakeru, has an underling beaten up to help their case.

(I hasten to point out here that if Kushida was prepared to rely on fingerprint evidence to accuse Ayanokouji of raping her, I was left wondering later if a similar method could prove that Sudou didn’t beat up Ryuen’s co-conspirator).

Hirata, essentially Class 1-D’s male Kushida (only not secretly evil), decides to believe Sudou’s self-defense claim and an investigation ensues, with the class banding together to find witnesses and evidence. In this venture, Kushida teams up with Ayanokouji without any reservations, while Horikita is reluctant to participate.

They aren’t making much progress until Ichinose Honami hears about the investigation and offers to help out, citing that she owes Ayanokouji one. She even arranges an online venue where people can post information in exchange for rewards.

When someone posts anonymously, she isn’t sure how to transfer her points to the guy, so enlists Ayanokouji’s technical know-how…in the process, showing him her personal points balance to be in excess of 2.6 million yen ($23,000) immediately setting off alarms in both his head and mine.

Ayanokouji’s dorm room has apparently become the meeting spot for the three misfits, including Sudou, as well as Kushida. When Horikita stops by with info on a witness—one Sakura Airi, based on her body language in class—she’s quick to retreat once she sees Kushida there. (Now, of course, I totally understand why she’d rather interact with Kushida as little as possible!)

The case wears on Kushida, who visits Ayanokouji in the evening. They go on a walk and discuss it, leaving their own personal issues totally aside. Ayanokouji thinks he knows why Horikita is reluctant to help Sudou: because he never learns his frikkin’ lesson and keeps getting into trouble immediately after being bailed out of it. In a case with so little to go on, Sudou’s character makeup is a huge liability, and he can’t go on like this.

That leaves the very skittish Miss Pink Hair, Pink Camera, Sakura Airi. Kushida tries to gently ask to speak with her about what she might’ve seen, but Sakura panics and tries to run off, dropping and breaking her camera. While I’m sure the data chip containing potentially conclusive photographic evidence wasn’t lost, I still know far too little about her to know what she intends to do with it, if anything.

Was Sakura, for instance, the girl who cried out at the club before that guy got beat up for suggesting there was a witness? Horikita’s bro is clearly trying to sabotage Class D (and by extension his sister); will Ayanokouji’s suspicions about the cash-flush Ichinose prove to be justified?

A lot of truth has yet to be found, and many not only like it that way but are actively trying to distort it. And now I’m out of new episodes to watch…drat.

Kuromukuro – 20

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Now this is the kind of episode that fully delivers on the promise of Kuromukuro from the start. No more teasing: Yukina is finally stuck aboard an alien mothership, and while before we were only given bits of dialogue from the bigwigs sitting on their thrones on the bridge, here we get a grand tour of the massive vessel, with Yukina as our guide.

Lighting, sound, and visual design get top marks here, creating a suitably alien and oppressive but still wondrous atmosphere. Yukina also benefits, at least initially, from the ship (and its various automated crewmen) believing she’s Muetta. I say initially because it isn’t long before Mirasa finds Yukina and tries to kill her, laughing maniacally the whole time.

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A little less exciting, but still important, is Sophie’s continued chat with Zell, who reveals he’s third world that was conquered and dominated by the Efidolg. He doesn’t want what happened to his world (nothing good) to happen to Earth, and he’d also like some retribution along the way.

At the same time, Major Graham discovers the director’s “mutiny” and acts to restrain her, but as she says, she’s “already won”, because Ken is up in orbit, trying to save her daughter. All anyone down there can do, from Graham and Hiromi to Yukina’s sister, uncle, and friends…is wait.

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Yukina manages to find a hiding place where Mirasa can’t see her, then digs into the ship’s records to try to figure out a way off, to no avail. She also finds what looks either like a clone or artificial “Yukihime head,” disturbingly enough. I appreciate her determination to help herself out, sticking true to what she said to herself in the beginning of the episode: “I can’t have him protect me all the time.”

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When she finally finds some clothes and a weapon, she remembers the gruelling training she went through, and it serves her well, at least in terms of the stamina she no doubt developed, as well as her sword skills, which keep her alive against a Mirasa who may well be compromised from the stress of “Muetta” returning to announce her treachery.

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Little does Mirasa know, until the last possible moment, that Muetta arrived on the ship separately. She reports to her superiors, but can’t keep up the fiction that nothing’s amiss when the ship’s sensors detect Ken roaming the corridors looking for Yukina.

Muetta is immediately treated and attacked as a traitor, which is probably what she expected all along. I for one am glad she doesn’t try to turn Ken and/or Yukina over in exchange for essentially keeping her job and having her past mistakes forgiven. Then again, she’s never actually given the choice to betray Ken, because bringing him here in the first place is all the bigwigs need to condemn her.

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Eventually, Ken finds Yukina, steps in on her fight with Mirasa, and along with Muetta they hurry back to the hangar to make their getaway. Yukina allows herself to cry and embrace Kennosuke with relief and heartfelt gratitude, and her continued thanks makes Ken blush. Sure you were only “fulfilling a promise.” Right.

The Efidolg try to snatch both the Kuromukuro and Muetta’s glongur, but fail when the Ogre flies up into orbit to snatch them out of the enemy tractor beam, allowing them to return to earth. All’s well that ends well…except for the little matter of the Efidolg ship preparing to descend to the Earth’s surface. No rest for the weary…or recently-half-naked.

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Wizard Barristers: Benmashi Cecil – 02

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As big and bold as the first episode was, Cecil’s job was only half-done: she had to save her client from wrongful prosecution and execution, which meant proving he wasn’t a member of the robbery gang and acted in self-defense. And while Cecil is a very capable, driven young lady, even she can’t acquire that proof on her own.

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It’s a team effort, with a sizable assist by Ageha, who seems quite comfortable bending or breaking a couple laws to get the location of the gang’s hideout. And while she seems troubled by such misconduct, with a life in her hands, Cecil isn’t going to sweat the little things. We also learn that her mom is also on death row, and her ultimate goal is to successfully defend her in a retrial.

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The first episode gave us a brief glimpse of her metal-harvesting diaboloid powers, but this week, with the entire Tokyo waterfront as her battlefield, Cecil conjures a massive mecha that she pilots. You might say: what the heck does a lawyer need with a mecha? Well, breaking it out means the gang responds in kind, and once they have a witness in custody, he is the proof that sets her client free in the eleventh hour.

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Collateral damage and ethical shortcuts aside, Cecil gets the job done, but we like how she has yet to win everyone over in the firm, while also attracting the gaze of shadowy figures in her line of work she’s sure to cross paths with in the future. But for now we’ll bask in her first victory, making her 1-0—undefeated so far!—delivered with a plucky blend of giant-robot fighting and courtroom drama.

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Strike the Blood – 03

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Eustach and Astarte retreat and Kojou recovers, but the lightning explosion he created costs billions of yen in damage to the city. Yukina helps him build a case for self-defense, which means finding Eustach, a powerful international criminal. With help from Kojou’s classmate Aiba Asagi, they locate Eustach in an abandoned laboratory. He once again sics Astarte – a homonculus containing an unhatched familiar – on them. She easily tosses Kojou and Yukina aside. Just when Eustach is delivering a killing stroke to Yukina, Kojou steps in front of the axe, which takes his head off.

If the Lion King Organization intended for the fourth primogenitor to be dealt with quickly and decisively, then they may have made a blunder when they chose a teenage girl to observe him. Then again, it’s made clear that, like Eustach with his homonculus girl, Yukina and other girls like her are naught but tools of the organization they serve, and expected to act accordingly. But Yukina isn’t dispassionate. She’s not just her target’s observer and potential executioner anymore. He’s become her savior, her friend…and her crush. Even when Kojou tells her how unstable he is and that he’d totally understand if she decided to eliminate him, she can’t to it.

And it’s not just about thinking he’s dreamy or being grateful for him saving her life. Getting to know him has shown her that he is a good person, worthy of mercy. Kojou causes quite a bit of damage in his self-defense, but it’s a human – Eustach – who is the greater threat, planning to destroy the entire island to get at the gooey “treasure” within. That threat is driven home when Kojou and Yukina barely last ten seconds against Astarte, ending with Kojou’s severed head in the arms of a blood-drenched, stunned Yukina. In classic arrogant villain form, Eustach doesn’t use this opportunity to kill Yukina too, ending any possibility of them coming after him again, but peaces out, sparing her life. You know he’ll regret that later.


Rating: 6 (Good)

Working’!! – 08

Nazuna has grown to the same height as Takanashi, so he hires Popura to be his Cute Little Sister for a day. A jealous Inami tries to get him to call her cute as well, and succeeds by showing him a picture of her as a little girl. She records his voice on her phone to listen to it over and over again. Kirio arrives at Wagnaria to search for Aoi. Takanashi considers him a threat, and Souma artfully keeps Aoi away from him.

Souma can be a cruel, ruthless guy. He loves nothing else but the look of humiliation on the faces of others, after all. Yet After a whole day of teasing his coworkers, Souma does something nice for Aoi; she keeps her blissfully unaware that she’s being hunted. Even if it isn’t the right thing to do, it’s to make her happy, not to humiliate her. This works great in concert with everyone’s standoffishness vis-a-vis Kirio. They’re not trying to protect Aoi, but they don’t seem to like the guy either. He gets too close to people; he’s a disruptive element.

Last week, we were made to believe that Kirio is stronger than Takanashi, and perhaps a more suitible suitor to Inami, because he can stop her punches, while Takanashi takes every one. Hilariously, it turns out not only could Takanashi stop her punches if he tried, he can pacify Kirio as easily as he swats a fly. This fits his background as a kid with many older sisters; Kozue whaled on him and in so doing, toughened him and taught him self-defense. But the fact he doesn’t resist Inami’s blows because doing so would hurt her is a very romantic sentiment, even if unconscious.


Rating: 3.5