GARO: Honoo no Kokuin – 19

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The amount we didn’t know about Ema Guzman had always outweighed what we did, and while that made her more cool and mysterious, it also kept her at arm’s length. Whenever she’s darted into Leon’s story, she’s made an impact, but she’s never been on screen long enough. That injustice is corrected this week…and then some.

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All the while Leon and Herman and Alfie have been through a diverse array of adventures, Ema’s basically been on the same single mission: she’s hunting for a powerful horror named Luciano Guzman. When Garm tells Leon Ema is going to die, Leon goes after her, which is a good move, because had he not intervened, she may well have died. Not because she’s too weak to defeat Luciano, but because she doesn’t particularly care if she dies.

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That’s because Luciano was once a man, a fellow Makai Alchemist, and her beloved lover and husband. As a pair they were unstoppable, but Luciano wanted more than to just hunt horrors; he wanted to save them. When not out fighting, he was in his lab, working furiously to find the spell that could prevent humans from turning, or turning them back, but got nowhere. The pain of his powerlessness eventually overcame him one night, when he sprouts giant black wings and disappears into the night…

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…Leaving poor Ema crushed by the wreckage in his wake. More than anything, she wants to take out the horror who did this to him, put him out of his misery, but the Makai knights she worked beside wouldn’t let her, only to end up slaughtered. She deems ending Luciano as her right and duty, and no one else’s.

Leon trades Zaruba’s knowledge of Luciano’s whereabouts for this story. Little does Ema know that, as it did for me, that story only made him care about her more and want to protect her, both from Luciano and her own obsession to destroy him even at the cost of her life.

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She doesn’t dare show a softer side to Leon, but privately, after sewing up her own abdominal wound (this chick is seriously badass), she seems intrigued, flattered, and a little impressed with Leon’s words. She caught a glimpse of him with Lara, but she still regarded him as naught but a boy, untouched and untested by the true horrors of the world. And we know that’s not true. Leon is no longer a clueless whelp. Now he has the strength of body and conviction to back up his big words.

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The night of the final showdown with Luciano commences, and to my surprise, it’s a thrilling aerial battle, calling to mind Last Exile or Pilot’s Love Song. Familiar vibes aside, Ema’s elegant system of gliders she hops to using thread and hooks, and the sleek alien stealth fighter design of Luciano’s horror form, are all very creative touches.

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The fact the battle weaves between cloud systems and is lit by the full moon gives it that much more of a dramatic, artistic flair. Ema has always been an acrobatic fighter, so it stands to reason when she gets really serious she takes to the sky itself. Especially when Luci opens up a barrage of red particle weapons at her, this is mostly just immensely fun stuff to watch.

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And Just as Garm foresaw, Ema does end up in a position where she really should have died. Using a spell of her own, she’s able to awaken a part of Luciano that still loves her, and he catches her before she’s impaled on a church spire. But he’s still a horror, and Ema doesn’t possess the ability to change him all the way back, any more than he did, so as he prepares to eat her, she’s ready with a giant sword made out of her thread. With the only thing keeping her suspended over that spire, killing him means her death too…if it weren’t for Leon, that is.

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A younger, less seasoned-by-life Leon would have surely tried to put an end to the fight before it began, but especially after hearing her story, he holds back until it’s over, only swooping in to save her after Luciano is gone. He does it because Ema is a friend, and she is someone he can protect, so he does. 

But his actions means more to Ema than he knows. She was willing to give up on her own life to release Luciano, he wasn’t. All of Ema’s disdain for Makai Knights was borne from the way they’d always swoop in like scavengers while undervaluing what she and Luciano did, and more importantly, when those same knights detained her, preventing her from taking care of Luciano a long time ago.

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But Leon is proof that not every Makai Knight is necessarily a shithead. He tends to her wounds and comforts her. In every encounter, including the early ones this week, Ema had mockingly referred to Leon as a boy, but suddenly, in that dimly lit room she realizes he’s no longer that boy in her head, but a man; the first man she could truly let her guard down and trust in a long time.

It’s a huge epiphany for her, which is why I don’t remotely begrudge her going in for a kiss. This new matured Leon proves her instincts were right by neither blushing or recoiling but kissing her right back, even taking things further, the risk of wounds opening be damned. It’s a very sexy scene,  and a great note to close on…and it’s earned.

For so long on this show Ema stood apart, out on the periphery, with us not knowing exactly what she was after or why. Now we not only know what she wanted to do; but she did it. Leon saved her, finding someone new to protect in the process. Now they’re standing a lot closer together, and the show is all the better for it. The question now is, do the two go separate ways the next day, or stick together for a time?

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Stray Observations:

  • With Lara, Ximena, and now Ema, we are officially in Garo’s Feminist Period. Seriously, it’s loaded with badass women.
  • On that note, let’s not forget Octavia, who’s still lurking in Alfie’s palace. Wonder if she’ll get a fleshing out.
  • I’ll admit, there were a couple poorly-drawn moments, but the episode more than makes up for it with that dogfight along with its usual stylishness.
  • Ema’s thief’s outfit in the flashback reminded me of FFXIII’s Lightning’s Ignition garb.
  • Ema kinda has to tell Leon about Luciano, since Zaruba is in a particularly chatty mood this week. “I’d rather say it myself than have a ring blab about it!” I LOL’d.
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Cross Ange: Tenshi to Ryuu no Rondo – 15

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As Tusk and Ange (who were allowed to dress) get carted off with Vivian to somewhere they know not where, this week begins by acknowledging that yes, it was cruel for the dragon girls to interrupt them in flagrante delicto. The episode certainly makes it up to him later (er…sorta?), but Ange’s “There’s no time for that now!”, while both practical and funny, is utterly unsympathetic to male biology.

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Still, there really isn’t time for sexytime. After taking it easy and exploring this strange new world on their own, they now find themselves in the clutches and at the mercy of the dragon girls, who I must say have one exquisitely picturesque capital.

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Fish-out-of-water culture shock ensures, as Ange and Tusk are brought before a council of priestesses who all shout questions at her. Our fiery Ange is having none of it and refuses to cooperate, which is great. Why the hell should she? Because they have swords pointed at her and are threatening execution? Pfft. Been there, done that. “Bring it on, if you can.”

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The dragon girl Ange once fought, a princess in her own right named Salamandinay (which I’ll henceforth shorten to Sala) emerges from behind a curtain. Amused by Ange’s brash impudence, Sala steps in to take responsibility for Ange and Tusk’s lives. She’s immensely proper and polite, showing the two to comfy quarters and offering tea, but when her subordinates deign to make her repeat her orders to leave, you see a tinge of her own hellfire lurking beneath that serene visage.

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With no reason to trust Sala, Ange repays her kindness by breaking what was probably an antique tea bowl and using a shard to initiate a standoff. You have to hand it to Ange, she knows how to handle herself, and has had it with waves of pleasantries obscuring the truth she seeks, whatever the hell it is. She’s also willing to test if Tusk is truly ready to die for her at the drop of a hat.

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Sala defuses the situation and bids that Ange accompany her to the bowels of the ruined Dawn Tower (called Aura Tower here), where Sala proceeds to lay the truth on her: There are two worlds, this one being where humans originally came from. After war, some left to create Ange’s world, while others stayed and fundamentally changed their genetic makeup in order to repair the planet’s damage, and their own.

The most damning truth is the fact that the first dragon, Aura, who is essentially mankind’s savior in this world, is no longer there, but being imprisoned on Ange’s world beneath its Dawn Tower, and is the source of the Light of Mana (thanks to Embryo). The Light isn’t infinite, so the powers that be replenish it by slaughtering the DRAGONS who stray into their world.

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Ange finds all of this fascinating, but it doesn’t change the fact that the world she’s from and the battles she’s faught aren’t “false” to her, and she has to go back. Sala won’t let her, and demonstrates the gap in power between them by choking Ange out. Sleep, fair, spastic princess.

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Ange awakes nude in last week’s hotel room as Tusk brings her coffee, and they have a perfectly casual talk about her dream, and then Tusk morphs into an evil Sala and Ange wakes up again, to find Vivian is back in her human form. The double dream is a nice indication that Ange has just ingested a large about of stuff, and she’s still trying to make sense of what’s real. She also probably wouldn’t have minded if the dragon girls had given her and Tusk just five minutes…

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The rank-and-file dragon girls were not idle as Ange slept: Tusk is the first mature male in human form any of them have ever seen (all the males here are big dragons) which is a pretty big deal. As such, he is stripped down and used as a live, unwilling subject for a sex education lesson, which consists mostly of a bevy of scantily-clad dragon girls poking and prodding him every which way.

Ange bursts in, suddenly Tusk’s knight in shining armor, only to trip on a bottle. In doing so, she learns just how easily one’s face can happen to land right smack-dab in someone’s crotch, and just like that, we’re tuned into to Cross Ange: Fellatio of Angels and Dragons.

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Obviously it’s not shown, but it’s implied that Tusk’s erection goes straight into Ange’s mouth, after which she swallows, dusts herself off like nothing’s amiss, and then asks what the meaning of all of this is. She blames and fumes at Tusk for this predicament, even though she was out cold, he was all alone, vastly outnumbered, and tied down; and all of this with blue balls. So I ask you: what the heck was Tusk supposed to do?

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Knowing the meter is running, the episode promptly tables the smut, and after Ange has calmed down, Vivian is reunited with her dragon mother. Vivi isn’t interested at first, but her nose knows: this is someone she used to know. This underlines the fact that the war between the two worlds isn’t as simple as Us vs. Them; there are children of both sides, and innocents on both sides that must be protected.

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That night, Sala spearheads a pretty lantern-launching shindig to celebrate Vivi’s return, Sala’s subordinates relay her wish that Ange and Tusk enjoy their stay and consider joining her crusade of acceptance, forgiveness, and restoration…and Ange finds it in her heat to forgive Tusk for letting himself get captured and sexually assaulted.

A lot happened this week: some of it intriguing, some of it downright silly; but Ange is still faced with the same basic situation she was in last week: she finds herself in a new, less messed-up world where she could live and forget about the messed up world she came from happily ever after, with Tusk (assuming she can keep the other girls off of him).

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The difference is, now she knows all the details with which to inform her ultimate choice, which Tusk will surely go along with whatever it is, because he’s her knight. Does she stay here? Does she go home and resume the fight against Vivi’s people (not easily done, considering how tough Sala is)?

She can’t really deny her world is a world of theft, greed, destruction and despair. On the other hand, it’s her world. If there’s a way to eliminate those things, as they’ve seemingly been eliminated in the dragon world, she’s going to want to be on point in that effort, because she’s no longer an the idle Princess Angelise with her head in the sand. She’s Ange.

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Stray Observations:

  • Sala is voiced by the ethereal Hocchan (Horie Yui).
  • Sala heard about Ange from Riza Randog, who we know is a dragon lady. That means the dragons have had one of their own in the emperor’s bed for some time. I imagine she was going to betray him eventually.
  • I was able to shorten Salamandinay to Sala because Salia wasn’t in this episode, but it makes me wonder if their names sound similar and they look similar for a reason, as Sala is the chosen magical girl heroine Salia has always fantasized about becoming.
  • No matter how much sympathy for their cause Sala manages to build, there’s a part of me that thinks we still don’t know the complete picture. These dragons may yet be the bad guys. This is Cross Ange we’re talking about.
  • The mind races to fathom which sexual acts will accidentally befall AngexTusk in the weeks to come. Will the show ever let them just have regular, okay sex?

GARO: Honoo no Kokuin – 08

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This week’s Herman-centric episode was as good as last week’s Leon-centric episode was bad. Because both took place over the same period of time, Garo could have structured it as a more integrated two-parter, in which Herman’s and Leon’s scenes would be woven together. But if that had been the case, this second episode would have suffered for it.

One way to think about it is that Leon lost, and learned he’s not as ready as he thinks he is, so it stands to reason his episode would also lose to Herman’s in terms of story, action, and especially comedy. This week repaired all the damage to my faith in the show last week caused.

Keeping the two sides separate let us experience All Herman, All the time. Mind you, if Herman’s horny roguishness and rubs you the wrong way, you probably didn’t enjoy this episode any more than last week’s…but I did.

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I really like how comedy was such a persistent presence this week, in contrast to the stiff joylessness of Leon’s dealings. One source of that comedy is the fact Herman is naked as his name day for most of the episode. Ironically, Herman was talking last night’s conquest about how he prefers his birthday suit to any clothes, let alone armor.

Then universe grants his wish, along with one hell of a taxing day in which he just can’t seem to stay out of trouble.

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Mind you, the trouble he gets himself into is all his fault, for letting his little Herman lead him around. No one makes him disrobe; he does it of his own volition once he’s confident the pretty damsel in distress he rescued from three goons will sleep him…which isn’t the most unreasonable assumption, but it is an assumption; made in haste in hopes of satisfying his libido.

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The damsel turns out to be in cahoots with the goons and rob him blind, and since he already helpfully removed his clothes, they decide to go ahead and take those too. Thanks to some quick thinking and resourcefulness (as a Makai knight, he’s used to fighting larger opponent) he manages to escape.

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But must escape naked, which gets him into trouble fast in the busy city. It’s great how fast his plight escalates, until there’s literally an army chasing after the guy. Mind you, this is really just one drawn-out hassle for him; he’s not about to take any of this misfortune as some kind of lesson in being more cautious with women. Herman is who he is, and sometimes shit like this is going to happen.

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This is illustrated perfectly when Herman borrows a sheet from a washerwoman’s line. A crossbowman with terrible aim corners him and accidentally loses a bolt, and Herman catches it before it hits the lady. In effect, this was a transaction: Herman takes the lady’s sheet, and pays for it by saving her life. Though he put her life was put at risk in the first place, I still think she got the better end of the bargain.

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Herman loses his sheet almost immediately while being chased by mounted soldiers, but is rescued by Emma, who always seems to show up at the right time. But she doesn’t just vanish in ten seconds like last week; she reports to Herman what she witnessed: Leon losing to the Black Knight, Bernardo Dion.

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With that name drop, the mood gets more serious (you almost forget he’s nude but for a junk-covering pink bonnet), as you can tell from Herman’s and Emma’s Serious Faces above. Knowing Leon is alive, however, Herman isn’t in a hurry to go to him; he’s a teacher as well as a father, and a teacher can’t always be bailing out his student when they run into adversity.

Heck, part of him is relieved Leon lost; after all, he was never going to believe his carefree horndog dad telling him he’s not ready to storm the castle. And Leon didn’t just fall short in strength here; a Makai knight’s duty is to protect, not fight or to dream of taking revenge and defeating nemeses. A Makai knight must float above all that, or risk being turned by the darkness inherent in their business; ‘one who studies horrors is studied by horrors’, and such.

Anyway, below is the exchange that ends the episode’s A-part, and from the delivery of the lines to the pause between them, followed by an abrupt cut to commercial, it’s pretty much goddamned perfect:

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I Lol’d.

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Herman ends up paying a visit to Garm, someone we haven’t seen in a while but seems to be a kind of Makai Supervisor who never wants for fruit. She also knows a lot more than Herman does, which pisses him off when she doesn’t inform him Dion turned ‘dark’ and attacked Leon.

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This is important because he and Dion were once on the same side, despite being complete opposites in personality-wise. Herman was pretty much the same outwardly carefree horny guy back then, while Dion was sterner, more serious, and the look of being weighed down by something. Herman, Anna, and Dion stuck together as the witchhunts raged, and one night when the three were cornered, Dion stayed behind to cover the escape of the other two.

It’s a valiant, honorable thing to do, but it spells doom for Dion, as in order to save his friends, he puts himself in the position of losing himself to the darkness he always felt lurking within him (that ‘weight’ I mentioned). Herman and Anna may well have been the last two people Dion protected as a Makai Knight. Now he works for Mendoza.

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I didn’t think we’d ever return to that barn where Herman was cockblocked and robbed, but we do, and this time Irene is genuinely upset and in need of rescuing, as one of her associates has turned into a Horror. He’s not a particularly tough horror, and Nude Herman is able to dispatch him without even donning his armor.

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Heck, when he ends up back in a situation where he must protect Irene — for real this time — and it’s suggested they sleep together after all, it’s as if the universe is balancing things out, just as he expected they would. Though he still needs to go pick up his clothes at the pawn shop, which means he needs coin, and last week’s final scene of a naked Herman is thus fully explained.

Yes, I much preferred separation Herman and Leon’s stories to their being meshed across two episodes. I’m glad Leon’s story was over and done with so it didn’t have to stink this up. Throughout most of last week I was frustrated, lost, and a little bored, to the point of wondering “Hey, I wonder what his dad is up to!” Now we know. We got the Full Monty, and it was glorious.

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Gokukoku no Brynhildr – 08

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After returning from Akiba, Ryouta drops Kazumi off and tells the other girls he’ll take care of the rest on his own. But in the wake of their “first date”, Kazumi isn’t satisfied. Under the pretense of helping him pinpoint the location on the device, she ends up at his house, ready to take the next step with him.

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While she rightfully tells him she doesn’t need a logical reason to want to sleep with him, the truth is she has one, and it’s the same reason she enjoyed their Akiba date so much: Her time on this world is cruelly short, and his could be too when he goes on the next wild goose chase. Going forward, her first time for many things could well also be her last, so she’s in a hurry to have them.

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Kazumi continues to cement her role as the most compelling and endearing of the girls, the one who embraces her mixed-up adolescent tendencies and raw humanity with abandon. She knows she may never reach later stages of life, and she’s clearly terrified. But she’s also scared of actually doing it, so when Ryouta accidentally causes her to make a strange, “freaky” sound, she halts the proceedings, admitting it’s all probably too much for him (and her too, if she’s honest).

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After a night of innocent spooning, Ryouta heads off on his own, and quickly finds he’s in over his head. Fortunately for him, the girls didn’t heed his call to hang back. For all his good intentions (and photographic memory) he’s still too weak to protect them on his own. So Kana gets a death vision, Neko storms in with her destructo-powers, Kazumi jams the radio, and when the chief has Ryouta pinned, Kotori teleports him away.

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It’s a good full team effort, but they were never going to struggle that mightily against normal humans. Nanami, the next girl sent after them (Neko, specifically), will be far tougher. Kazumi revels in her humanity and femininity by shedding clothes all the time, but Nanami’s status as a captive tool is accentuated by the belts and a hood she’s wrapped up in when not in use. Still, like the others, she wants to live, so she’ll obey her bosses. And because we know full well her bosses won’t let her live, you can’t help but empathize with her too.

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Golden Time – 19

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Is Tada Banri really The Worst? Nah, but he’s certainly quite fallible. This week he keeps his friendship with Linda a secret from Mitsuo, doesn’t tell Linda that Mitsuo would be at festival club filming, doesn’t even know what Linda is mad about, and later disgusts Chinami, who happens to catch him being all too friendly with the girl Yana-san likes. He even jokes that he doesn’t know who Koko is when she rushes to his arms upon his return to town, and…all right, we’ll admit that was pretty funny. But it wasn’t very nice.

So yeah, Banri messed up here and there this week, but one can’t place the blame entirely on him. After all, when you’ve decided not to run form your past anymore, difficulties and missteps come with the territory. Doing what he’s decided to do was never going to be easy, especially he isn’t even sure he can coexist with his past self; it could come back and take over at any time. It’s all to easy to shrink in the midst of existential fears, and thus it’s understandable he’d overlook the affairs and feelings of others now and again.

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That being said, his actions have consequences. Mitsuo is really into Linda and wants to make a go of it, while Linda is unsure of how to react to his interest in her. She’s a lot of fun to watch this week, as we get many a hilariously angry-face and scary voice out of her. It’s a little goofy, but her tangled emotions are strongly felt.

As for Chinami, we’ve never seen her so pissed off, and while it’s true she was being a bit nosy and doesn’t have the whole picture, she’s not wrong that Koko would not have liked the scene of Banri and Linda she witnessed. Linda and Chinami form a tag-team of punishment on Banri, and it’s oddly satisfying to behold.

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Speaking of Koko—she’s decided it’s time for her and Banru to become one. Her gift of the Eiffel Tower sculpture (which beyond its obvious phallusy bears a resemblance to many an ancient fertility statue), and its subsequent role in the failure of her mission (along with her full stomach) are all brilliantly dorky, cute, and very Koko. It’s also notable that she presents him with the tower as he’s debating whether to give her his mother’s ring.

He tells himself and Koko they have plenty of time, but what’s so agonizing is that we simply don’t know if that’s really the case. When we saw that ring, we immediately considered the possibility that it may never see Koko’s finger. We hope we’re wrong. In any case, Banri can’t be careless with his secrets, his omissions, or his time. This is his golden time.

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Rating: 8 
(Great)

Aku no Hana – 06

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The next day at school the class is abuzz with the news Saeki and Kasuga are dating, and Saeki comes right out and confirms it. Kasuga walks home with Saeki, eats lunch with Saeki, and they promise to take their time building a relationship. While having lunch with Saeki, Yamada and Nakamura, Nakamura passes him a note to meet her in the library after school. She tells him Saeki wants to have sex with him, just as Saeki walks by outside. The next day Saeki is absent, and Kinoshita gives Kasuga the day’s handouts to deliver to Saeki and warns him about hurting her. Kasuga hesitates to ring the bell to Saeki’s house, but Nakamura jumps him, wishes him good luck, and rings it for him.

I’ll be reborn as a decent human being and spend eternity bound in noble and sublime love with Saeki.

If Kasuga truly believes this is how things are going to down based on what’s happened so far, he’s even more devastatingly naive than we could have imagined. Of course, only part of him wants to believe this ideal scenario. The fact is, his life isn’t a book, and there’s more to him than that naive side. There’s the darker side within him, which he’s struggling with; the side with a voice we hear for the first time, telling him he doesn’t deserve an Angel. Building a relationship with Saeki with the gym uniform thing looming is not only untenable, but hypocritical to his claims. He cannot be reborn when things still tie him to the old, weak him who sinned. This week Kasuga reaps the rewards of becoming Saeki’s boyfriend, baffling and impressing their class and spending time with Saeki. Everything that’s good is out in the open.

Saeki also does her damnedest to play precisely the part Kasuga wants her to play: the innocent, pure Virgin Mary. She wants to take things nice and slow, and wants to learn more about Kasuga. But then Nakamura befriends her, and this is where we are on the same side of the narrative wall as Kasuga: did Saeki confess to Nakamura that she wanted to sleep with Kasuga? It’s pretty true to Nakamura’s character to lie about it, but perhaps Saeki really did tell her that, and Nakamura then decided to use that info as ammo in her Kasuga Project. Saeki has shown to be very much into Kasuga, so until proven otherwise, we’re going to assume Saeki does want Kasuga in that way, going against Kasuga’s idealized version of her. Just as she doesn’t yet know the whole Kasuga, Kasuga – and we – don’t know the whole Saeki. That will change soon.

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Rating: 9 (Superior)

Stray Observations:

  • Throughout this episode, even during Kasuga’s moments of joy, Nakamura is always at the end of a shot, in the back corner of the frame, just out of focus or partially hidden. Nakamura started out merely sitting behind him, now she’s virtually his shadow.
  • We’ll see next week if Saeki actually heard what Nakamura said to Kasuga, or if she mistook the scene as something else.
  • In hindsight Nakamura’s strategy of allowing Kasuga+Saeki relationship to go ahead looks like it’ll pay much greater dividends to a deviant such as herself than prematurely ruining it by dropping the bomb (her knowledge of the uniform theft). 
  • As long as Kasuga believes the uniform will destroy him, Nakamura will have power over him. It would be intriguing to see how he might theoretically go about turning the tables on her. Then again, she has nothing to lose.
  • There’s a quote that  accompanies an animated version of series.creator Oshimi Shuuzou at the end of every episode. This week he says “The next one’s gonna be even better.” We have no reason not to believe him!

From the New World (Shin Sekai yori) – 05

Rijin is killed fighting the blowdog, and the queerat horde returns. Without Cantus, the kids are powerless, and must flee. Saki trips and falls down a hill, and is found by Satoru, but they’re captured by the queerats. In their tree prison they start to vent their stress an anxiety with intimate behavior, but the guard is watching. Satoru gives it a haythatcher egg, which it eats and is killed. They excape, and are led into a rival queerat colony by a talking queerat named Squealer. He begs the two “gods” to help them against the invading queerats, who attack the colony that night. Satoru and Saki use the confusion to escape, and Satoru ignites poison gas to take out their pursuers. Satoru pokes a hole in the liquid-like ceiling of the cave, which collapses on them.

When Saki and Satoru are taken prisoner by the roving queerats, they find themselves up a tree in very close quarters, and they start to feel very…amarous. They’ve been friends for a long time and both probably find each other attractive, but that isn’t all that’s going on. In a very carefully-animated scene, Saki realizes as she’s with Satoru that she’s doing exactly what the library slug said she’d do if faced with undue stress and anxiety: engage in intimate sexual behavior, like bonobos. She’s doing what her genetic makeup programmed her to do, not what she wants to do. She stops herself.

Before she learned about humanity’s bloody history and the nature of the society she lives in, Saki was into Shun, not Satoru. If she’s going to be intimate, it’ll be with someone she truly likes like him, not whoever happens to be nearby in order to blow off steam. Her mind fights her body. But this is just the first of many situations she and Satoru face this week that puts them into survival mode. She also learns that humans and kids in particular should steer clear of queerats, because they’ll be exhalted as gods and brought into their wars – and war is something most humans can no longer physically wage.


Rating: 9 (Superior)

P.S. Saki’s adventure garb is really cool-looking, giving off some serious Nausicaä vibes.

Natsuyuki Rendezvous – 07

Hazuki remains trapped while Atsushi continues seducing Rokka, not caring who she thinks she’s spending time with. They go to the sea, spend the night at a hotel, and make love. When Rokka wakes up, Hazuki isn’t there, but Atsushi has left a note with the same unique character he gave her when they exchanged numbers on their first date. Atsushi spends the day making bouquets for Rokka. When Rokka sees them, she’s overcome by emotion, seemingly unsure of which man Hazuki is.

This series has an uncanny ability to consistently keep us in the dark about what’s going to happen next, but it manages this unpredictability with such grace and subtlety, we can hardly complain, and in fact, welcome the surprise. We really thought Atsushi would finally give Hazuki’s body back this time, but he wants a little more time. He’s perpetually aware that his is a “vain struggle” and that resisting the truth of his situation is futile, but he just can’t let go yet. Rokka has opened her heart – and body – for Hazuki, not him. Even in Hazuki’s body, there’s nothing he can do. Well, almost nothing.

Like last week, there was a frustration simmering in the background the whole time Atsushi interacted with Rokka, and once again, Hazuki misses out on a milestone of his currently hijacked relationship. Let this be a lesson to everyone out there: never get drunk around the ghost of the husband of the girl you love. We feel really bad for Hazuki this week – though being underwater and being able to breathe and talk is pretty sweet. We also feel bad for Rokka; she’s being royally messed with by Atsushi. This hasbeen an interesting situation,but we’re hoping the mermaid’s right and this won’t last forever. There are just four episodes left: we hope Hazuki gets his body back soon. Even if no one’s sure who the main character is anymore, we’re still rooting for him.


Rating: 8 (Great)

Natsuyuki Rendezvous – 04

Hazuki goes on a date with Rokka to Hanayashiki with the mission to get her to smile and laugh like she used to when Atsushi was still alive. While they proceed to have an okay time, Rokka is distracted by memories of when she came here with her late husband, to the point where she even spots his ghost in places. Defeated, Hazuki gets very drunk before returning to Rokka’s for late night tea, and consents to let Atsushi borrow his body. Atsushi rejoices, now able to touch and speak to her.

Thursday’s lineup this summer is a Yin & Yang affair: Binbogami’s the fire, earth, bubblegum soda pop and Red Bull; Natsuyuki Rendezvous is the water and gentle breeze and a fine red wine…or perhaps a cool, frosty Asahi Super Dry. This is Hazuki’s Big Day, and if he can’t get her to laugh – or at least consent to sex – he’ll consider it a failure and he won’t know what to do next. Well, to his surprise (and horror) he does make her laugh by asking if she’ll have sex with him. Her answer – “out of the question” is as devastating as it is vague (and nicely punctuated by a low piano string strike and a pool of blood-like water ice syrup). “Hey, Rokka, I didn’t mean right here and now. I meant in general!

Hindsight is 20/20, but it turned out to be a mistake to bring her to a place that evokes such vivid and powerful memories in Rokka, who hasn’t been there since Atsushi’s death. He could have made her laugh somewhere else, but at Hanayashiki it’s as if Atsushi’s there, only invisible and thus even more insidious. It would have been just fine if the episode ended when the date did, but the show does us one better and has a thoroughly boiled and desperate Hazuki lets Atsushi possess him. This is his plan. Perhaps he feels damned if he does or damned  if he doesn’t. Regardless, this should be interesting!


Rating: 8 
(Great)

P.S. So, Japanese for “chicken” (as in scared) is…chicken! Sweet!

No. 6 2

First of all, yowza, this episode contained (courtesy of Safu) probably the most forward proposal for sex I’ve heard in an anime since Mezzo Forte, which was at least part-porn. Second of all, good grief, four frikkin’ years have gone by! We never see the consequences of Shion harboring Nezumi in realtime, only his recollection of it. Basically, his life is ruined; he and his mom are kicked out of No.6 and he’s reduced to working as a park supervisor in “lost town”, far from glittering Chronos.

It was definitely gutsy to let so much time pass. Safu’s role still seems unclear to me, as Shion only sees her as a friend, and she’s leaving for No.5 to study abroad for still another two years. Meanwhile, Lost Town is just as authoritarian as No.6, and when Shion speaks out of turn regarding a mysterious and gruesome death, the government locks him up for malcontentedness.

Fortunately, Nezumi has been watching him from afar, and rescues him in the nick of time. They run into the woods and eventually make it outside the walls of the city to “the real world”, a bleak, sickly, dystopian urban growth sticking to the outside of the wall. It would seem Shion’s journey has just begun. Oh yeah, and what the heck was up with those neck bees? Rating: 3.5