Shimoneta – 05

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Shimoneta does not hold back (no pun intended) on the continuing unfortunate results of Anna’s accidental first arousal by Okuma; she is absolutely out of control from start to finish, frightening due to the strength of her convictions (read: delusions), yet also a profoundly tragic figure; a walking, talking, drooling example of everything wrong with her mother’s hardline stance against sex education.

Her mother has kept her bottled up all this time, and now the flood gates are open. Yet so ignorant is she to the basic biology of sex, Anna refers to her discharge as “love nectar”, first mixing it in the dough for cookies made specially for Okuma, then trying to get him to drink it straight from a  bottle where she’s been collecting it. Anna’s complete inability to cope with her lust has turned her into a dribbling, chain link fence-cutting psycho.

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All the while, Anna is apparently lucid enough to keep this erratic behavior secret from her mother, who either trusts her daughter enough not to stick her nose in her business (pretty hypocritical, considering how evasive X Prohibition will be to the rest of the Japanese youths) or she’s simply too busy with the PR campaign to bother noticing Anna melt down.

Public Morals begins a crackdown on the school specifically to dissuade students from storming Yotsuga Forest where the porn stash is believed to be located. Yet Ayame goes anyway, willing to storm the place on her own, no matter the consequences, as a matter of principle, and in hopes she’ll inspire others.

Her suicide mission is interrupted by the cavalry: Fuwa Hyouka found Otome’s lewd drawings Okuma dropped in her lab when Anna was chasing him, and she distributed them to the student body, which came to the forest en masse. She uses all the boys as a diversion against the morality cops, and sends the girls in.

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Sophia’s rally at her daughter’s school is ruined, so Anna goes to the forest and locates both Blue Snow and Okuma (who is in a light disguise). Ayame orders Okuma to save himself, but even when he lands smack-dab in the Cave of Porn, he decides he’s not going to let Anna unmask and punish Blue Snow. He probably realizes the ideal life he imagined with Anna isn’t going to happen.

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He emerges wearing woman’s lingerie, and the sight of his package is enough to make Anna hysterical, as they used to say in olden times. Unaware it’s Okuma behind the pantymask, she’s so ashamed of her body reacting so intensely to another man, she literally jumps off a cliff and flies away, leaving a love nectar rainbow in her wake. That’s right, a love nectar rainbow. I sure didn’t see that coming!

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Even SOX are rendered bewildered and speechless, but at the end of the day, they successfully got all of their fellow students to storm the forest, and scored a huge haul of fresh and diverse porn with which Otome can be inspired to create an ever-richer catalogue of illustrations for distribution. They even manage to switch the signatures from other schools with those illustrations, and Sophia makes the mistake of holding one up without looking at it first while on a live nationwide broadcast with no tape delay.

It’s a huge coup for SOX, who were on the cusp of being wiped out, because the scandal essentially stops the X Prohibition Law in its tracks, as well as gets Sophia in trouble. Thinks are looking good for the ero-terrorists, but more challenges lie ahead, one of which is named Anna Nishikinomiya.

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Durarara!!x2 Ten – 05 (17)

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Chat rooms are abuzz with rumors about masked Dollars/Blue Scarves purging the gang of unwanted members. A combat training-obsessed loon is stalking Hijiribe Ruri. And Celty, having rescued a client’s beloved pet snake, comes home still upset about the white rider. How do all these disparate events connect? The people involved in them, and their myriad degrees of connection to one another.

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While there are a lot of developments involving newer characters and illustrating the rot around the edges of Ikebukuro are slowly spreading, this is an episode that puts the main trio of Mikado, Masaomi, and Anri front and center (as much as a sprawling ensemble show can do so). Their connections have changed, and they know it, but all three seem to be preparing to make a new go of things. Ikebukuro’s fate seems tied to these three, even if they may not have major roles in many episodes.

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Ostensibly, this is an episode about people coming to talk to other people; those connections we mentioned being crucial to them figuring out what’s going on and receiving counsel on how to proceed. Shizuo’s bro Kasuka and Ruri come to Shizuo seeking a connection to the Dollars, a member of whom is believed to be stalking her. Shizuo is no longer a member, but he knows someone who does/is in Shinra and Celty, so Kasuka and Ruri don’t come up empty. They also pawn Ruri’s Scottish Fold kitten off on Shizuo, fearing the stalker may harm it.

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Celty arrives home from her latest exciting, death-defying mission to find Anri wants her and Shinra’s counsel regarding Mikado. Anri, who knows him as well as anyone, thinks he’s acting strange, mostly because he’s so upbeat and confident in his own power, which is decidedly not what Mikado has classically been about.

While walking home, he even tells Anri he doesn’t care about her secrets (some of which he’s seen, but neither has spoken of); he only cares about “creating a place for her” in Ikebukuro, as well as a place everyone else. It’s what he intended when he founded the Dollars, and it’s what he’s trying to translate into the real world.

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Celty recalls a past visit from Kuronuma Aoba asking about an email address that they ended up giving to him. Shinra compared Aoba to Orihara Izaya in his greediness and need to feel the whole world in the palm of his hand, or to put it another way, his compulsion to bat a ball of yarn around and revel in its unraveling. Aoba hates the comparison because he hates Orihara, but also because he knows he comes across as a younger knock-off of that more famous troublemaker.

How much Aoba is influencing Mikado and how much of this is Mikado’s will is still unclear, but at least on the surface, and despite Anri’s reservations, Mikado does seem to have a good handle on things, and he’s using the Scarves to get rid of the nastier members of the Dollars who undermine his desire to create a place for everyone. It’s a nasty conundrum: excluding those who exclude in order to preserve inclusivity.

We see Masaomi preparing to return to Ikebukuro, with Saki’s blessing, at a time when, again, on the surface, Mikado needs him the least, but deeper down, may need that old connection to return now more than ever before he loses himself. In any case, I’ll bet Masaomi will be every bit as unnerved by New Mikado as Anri is.

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Shimoneta – 04

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At first, Anna seems to be processing her “experience” with Okuma last week by clamping down on school indecency, tightening her grip on public morality as her mother prepares to make a speech at her school on her “final solution” for nipping lewdness in the bud and preserving the purity of Japan’s youth, saving them from their own base urges. Anna is also straight-up avoiding Okuma, making him think she despises him now.

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With a vote on the X Prohibition Law looming, Ayame briefs her SOX team of Okuma and Otome on their next mission, which is to storm a forest where hardcore porn is known to be located (the forest was once the property of a famous pornographer) with a mass of “cherry” boys and girls from school, overwhelming the authorities with numbers. SOX is not the only dirty terror group, but one of several all working to free Japan from the shackles of artificial sexual repression.

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Anna’s mom ends up surprising Ayame by announcing the student vote for X Prohibition will take place the same time control will be lifted from the porn forest. She also unveils the future of oppression: heavy-duty chastity belts that prevent any fooling around in that area by either sex, further closing off that crucial part of the human anatomy to youth a a crucial time in their development. The image is somewhat humorous, but the idea behind it is truly chilling.

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Ayame is pissed off about her plan becoming far more difficult, but she still thinks she can convince the student body to storm the forest IF she can get Otome out of her artistic funk. To do that, Ayame exploits Okuma’s new stalker, who has stuffed his mailbox with love letters and left puddles of saliva on his patio, by putting a note telling her to come in, all while Otome hides in his closet and observes.

Okuma is convinced nothing will happen and Otome will see nothing interesting, but he ends up about as wrong as it is humanly possible to be, as his stalker turns out to be Anna, who is extremely sex-crazed despite having no idea what sex is. She enters Okuma’s apartment, tears his and her clothes off, mounts him, and starts licking him. All she knows is that this feels good, so it must be good, and right, and pure.

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Clearly having no idea the note on Okuma’s door would be so successful, Ayame walks in on this spectacle, and Anna basically grabs her clothes and runs out in embarrassment, yet still in a kind of trance in which she doesn’t think there’s anything wrong with what she’s doing. Why would she? Her parents never told her about this kind of stuff. Yet the burning in her loins cannot be denied.

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It took an accidental kiss during a stalker dust-up, but Okuma’s beloved angel Anna has well and truly broken out of her shell. Her ignorance is such that rather than admit her harsher enforcement measures at school constitute gross hypocrisy considering how she’s been behaving on the side vis-a-vis Okuma, she absolves herself by proclaiming that “love is justice”, and that the more she doles out on others, the more love she’s able to give to Okuma.

Absent any kind of proper education on romance or sex, Anna is quite literally making it up as she goes along. Even more troubling, her authority and pedigree are such that few can dare challenge her improvisatory philosophy. She’s suddenly become quite the hedonist, but she’s playing with porn-burning fire.

Most surprisingly, Anna put her money where dirty-talking Ayame’s mouth is, taking debauchery to levels that make Blue Snow herself blush. Or in baseball terms (Hi Preston!), Ayame has been shouting slogans from the stands, but it’s Anna who rounded second base and slid into third, naked and drooling.

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Shimoneta – 03

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After top art student and school’s pride, Saotome Otome, caught a glimpse of Okuma and Ayame’s rooftop antics, she literally snags him on a chain and drags him away to her studio, where she presumes he can assist her with (or rather she can blackmail him into) helping her with a romantic problem that is making her art suffer. The subject of her affections? Anna. So when Okuma must tell her who he loves, he says the first girl’s name that comes to mind: Ayame, so as to avoid conflict.

But Otome’s artists’ block is merely a side effect of a much larger problem that afflicts not only her, but much of the population: a decade of PMs and oppression is leaving large swaths of the population unable to express their love, or even identify what they’re feeling as such. This isn’t surprising; dirty jokes and the sexual knowledge that makes them dirty are crucial to natural human interaction. Without them, there’s a large gap that is filled with whatever else people can come up with.

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For a certain unsavory admirer of Anna, that something is stalking and candid photos with threatening messages. Anna is shaken by this, but Ayame assure Okuma she’ll protect her while he tries to get Otome to join SOX, revealing that her friendship to Anna is genuine, even if the two are on opposite ends of the moral spectrum. Anna, after all, is person who made it possible for Ayame to exist in normal society; she’d surely be in jail without her. But with the very survival of the human race is at stake, and so Ayame must act against her best friend.

Anna, for her part, knows Okuma isn’t the stalker, despite Goriki’s suspicions (which are his own way of expressing his own love for Anna), and agrees to a sting in which Ayame will dress as a boy as they go on a date. At the same time, Otome plans her own rescue of Anna by the stalker, shaving Okuma’s legs and putting him in drag (for the second straight episode).

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As they wait in the bushes, Otome cannot help but compulsively draw Anna, her first real model, in her own unique way of expressing her love. The resulting sting is a pretty thrilling and complex bit of physicality, as not only does the stalker turn out to be huge, but there are three of them, and not everyone in a position to protect Anna is close enough to stop their attacks.

Fortunately, Ayame knows right where to kick the first stalker, and Okuma is in time to stop the next one with a devastating right. Interestingly, he moved out of instinct, but isn’t sure who he moved for: Ayame, whom he told Otome he loved on a whim? Or Anna? Heck, why not both!

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Whoever he was trying to protect, he loses his wig and takes a rock to the back of the head, and ends up not only landing on top of a stunned Anna, but his lips and legs end up locked with hers for a not inconsequential amount of time before he gets up, starts to apologize, and passes out from the rock blow.

As for Anna, that sudden closeness to a boy and the touch of his lips seems to awaken her libido with a vengeance. Again, she has no idea what’s going on, but she knows it feels amazing. Will this be an isolated incident eventually forgotten, or will Anna never look at Okuma the same again?

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Kiseijuu: Sei no Kakuritsu – 12

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In this heart-crushing powerhouse of an episode that marks the halfway point of the show, it felt like Parasyte had finally put all its visceral and emotional pieces together.

Like Migi, it’s been an often cold and calculating show that more often than not punishes anyone who takes actions based on emotion alone, and takes things to their logical conclusion. But with both Shinichi’s occasional romantic interactions with Satomi and the tragic events of this week, the show proves its blood is still red…’for now’.

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Kana is still having dreams in which Shinichi is rescuing her from a monster than sweeping her off her feet. Considering he’s with Satomi, you’d think she wouldn’t want them, or the feelings that go with them, but a.) she can’t help how she feels and b.) all of this stuff going on supports her belief that she is the only one for Shinichi.

Meanwhile, Migi is all worked up (and playfully complex in his forms) about the prospect of his own kind running for and even winning elections, as farfetched as it seems. He even takes a cynical but not inaccurate dig at politics, stating that anyone with a grasp of psychology can succeed in that arena.

One great thing is that as stuck together as they are, Migi still can’t read Shinichi’s mind. That’s good, because Shinichi is far more concerned with Kana than the mayoral election. To Migi, that kind of ‘concern’ could get them both killed.

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Not willing to give up, Kana ‘bumps into’ Shinichi again, whereupon he takes her aside and reiterates the danger of approaching signals she thinks are him. Mitsuo spots the two and assumes Shinichi is trying to steal Kana from him. Shinichi telling him “it isn’t like that” is hardly convincing argument after Mitsuo hears things like “you make me feel like no one else can.” Somebody’s jelly.

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Migi doesn’t like this persistent interaction with the unpredictable (or perhaps all-too-predictable) Kana, and warns Shinichi that her welfare is not more important than his, and if Shinichi goes and does something that threatens his safety, Migi won’t hesitate to act on his own. It sounds like a threat, because it is. Because Migi has no sympathy.

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Well do, so it hurts to see Kana get so obsessed with Kana through no fault of her own; she’s only following the ‘power’ she’s suddenly gained. She has a very close call when she runs out into the night and comes across a parasyte, but isn’t attacked. I’m going to chalk that incredibly lucky result to the parasyte having already eaten its fill that night.

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Shinichi meets Kana somewhere private for a ‘serious conversation’, and her infatuation makes her get her hopes up that he’s going to confess to her. When he instead tells her about everything – the parasytes, his right hand, all of it – she’s not shocked; she’s disappointed! More to the point, she doesn’t quite believe his story, either, especially since he can’t morph his hand, as Migi is asleep.

She then tells Shinichi that she can now discern his signal from the signals of the other monsters, furthering her self-imposed narrative that they are meant to be together. In exchange for this secret, she makes Shinichi promise to show her his squiggly right hand sometime, even making a cute little Migi-like hand gesture.

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Migi and Shinichi are both surprised to find the mayoral candidate won, meaning the parasytes now have a safe haven and food source, but there’s nothing to be done about that at the moment, so Shinichi and Satomi arrange a movie date.

Again, Kana is not far from them, and even tries to will Shinichi to look back at her. She can’t believe Satomi, who doesn’t have the power she does, could possibly be right for him. But only Migi looks back at her (which she doesn’t notice).

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Mitsuo shows up again, apparently stalking the stalker, and Kana’s frustration boils over. However, as much as a loathe Mitsuo, I like how Kana walks back her harsh words, since she and Mitsuo have clearly been friends long enough that he’s not someone she’d dispose of so easily, even if she can’t return his feelings.

And she definitely can’t…she’s in full Shinichi Fixation Mode, writing their names on the pillar of her hideout. Then Shinichi learns from Migi that Kana herself was putting out a signal, making her and even more vulnerable and conspicous target for parasytes, should she run into the wrong one.

Shinichi decides to cancel his date and meet with Kana again, a move Kana again interprets in a way that supports her fate theory. Confident she’ll be able to find Shinichi with her power alone, she wraps his plucked hair around her finger and sets out…without her phone.

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As much as she wants to sense Shinichi and only Shinichi, and even though she told Shinichi she had that power, it turns out she doesn’t, and even though I knew this situation was a long time coming, my heart still sank down below the foundation of the house as she ran into the hideout to find another parasyte feeding.

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And that…was just it for Kana. In this case, the show took her obsession and her increasing vulnerability to its logical conclusion. She may be able to sense parasytes, but she can’t fight them, or even run away. Her knight Shinichi does arrive, just as she hoped, but not soon enough to save her. [Bangs fist on desk] DAMN IT!

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Shinichi’s retribution is swift and chilling in its grim efficiency. He tells Migi to “handle the defense”, rushes the parasyte, dodges his attack, and rips his heart out, impressing the hard-to-impress Migi.

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But while I’m sure the gesture felt good for a moment to his still-human psyche, it is far too late to save Kana. He holds her as she bleeds out, and she tells him this is just how it went in her dreams, before quietly passing away. Then Shinichi looks up to find she died right in front of the pillar she wrote on, making it a gravepost.

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With her sensing power, Kana was special, no doubt. But did that power go further into a kind of precognition? Did she dream of things that then came to pass, with just the detail of her surviving being different? It’s neat to think about, even if its hard to connect those more ‘magical’ concepts with the more scientific reality of the parasytes. But maybe that was the point. In any case, losing Kana was very upsetting. I didn’t realize how much I liked her until she was taken from us. She deserved a much longer life.

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Detectives with knowledge of the parasytes questioned him thoroughly but let him go, (he’s mostly above suspicion because they plucked his hair), though they’re faced with the mystery of who killed the parasyte who killed Kana. Mitsuo, who has seen (and been on the wrong end of) Shinichi’s strength, gets in face and starts pummeling him anyway for failing to protect Kana, who from his perspective had strayed into Shinichi’s arms so willingly.

Mitsuo is even more upset that Shinichi takes the beating so calmly, and didn’t even shed a tear for Kana, as if he weren’t human. All Shinichi can to to respond is drop Mitsuo with one blow, say “that’s right!” to the non-human claim, and curse Mitsuo for ‘going down so easily.’

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He’s not just talking about Mitsuo, though. He’s talking about Kana, who went down so easily, and his mom, who went down so easily, and those cops at the school who went down so easily, and those yakuza who went down so easily. Humans are so goddamn frail and weak, they can’t protect themselves or anyone else from the parasytes.

Only Shinichi, who is no longer fully human, seems capable of protecting them. And yet, he couldn’t protect Kana. For once, I agree with Migi that Kana was probably a hopeless case anyway, but that doesn’t change the fact that none of his awesome powers were worth a damn when it mattered most.

There’s simply too much on Shinichi’s plate; too many people to protect and no good way to do it. And it’s tearing him up inside.

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P.S. Kudos to Sawashiro Miyuki for some fantastic work voicing Kana.

Golden Time – 02

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A week into the semester, Kaga still obsessively trying to make contact with Mitsuo, who continues to avoid her. This irks Tada, but he concedes that ignoring her it Mitsuo’s choice, just as feeling bad for her is his. Tada accompanies Mitsuo to a party the film club is having at “Golden Time” restaurant. Tada is ensnared by the aggressive tea club in the next room and parties all night. The next day he’s rescued from club recruiters once again by Linda. They part when he spots Kaga sitting alone again. She tells him no clubs have approached her, and he suggest she reach out to more people. A pushy club recruiter from another college wrangles them into a three-day, two-night retreat.

Having experienced it ourselves (at art school, no less), we have to applaud this series for so faithfully depicting the chaotic first week of college life. New, fascinating, and unexpected experiences abound for Tada, and at times it is downright overwhelming. We like how the series exaggerates these experiences for dramatic effect; the awesome ordeal with the hard-drinking, hard-partying tea club being the most prominent example. But he survives that trial, and comes out a more informed, wiser (and hung-over) man. But what really seeks to tarnish his golden time is the knowledge that Kaga may not be happy here. Again, no one can fault Mitsuo for acting the way he does towards her; it may seem cruel to us, but we simply don’t know the whole story.

Maybe she does deserve this treatment. But none of that matters to Tada; he wants to get to know Kaga better. She’s a tough nut to crack for sure, described by recruiters as overpowering or out-of-reach. Kaga herself says she feels invisible, even though Tada has been seeing and talking to her all along. Visibility is a common thread here. By abjuring Kaga, Mitsuo seeks to render her invisible. By the end of the episode, Kaga has finally remembered Tada’s name, meaning he’s that much more visible to her. Linda isn’t quite as visible to Tada as she’d like; the light from Kaga is obscuring Linda’s, who may actually be the better match.

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Rating: 8 
(Great)

Stray Obserations:

  • That Tea Club Party was nuts. Binge-drinking; stripping; “bowling” into each other crotches and sniffing; turning first-year guys into man-slaves with the force of their personality. All it lacked was kegstands and beer bongs!
  • Cafe au Laits in bowls? That sounds like something you’d first encounter in college.
  • We see Linda out-of-costume for the first time, and we really dig her androgynous character-design. She really couldn’t look any more different from Kaga – which is the point.
  • Idiots usually make bad characters, but Tada’s no idiot, as a part of him is aware she could be putting on an act, even as he desires a relationship with her. Like us, he needs more info to make a solid judgment about her.
  • The cold open: an bandaged Tada in hospital garb runs through a dark forest and falls down a steep hill chasing a light. A figure approaches and lends him her hand. In a flash of light and flurry of roses, it becomes Kaga. But before that flash? The silhouette looked an awful lot like Linda. This, and Linda’s body language when with Tada, got us thinking, did she and Tada meet before his accident, and did he lose his memory of her?

Aku no Hana – 04

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Saeki praises Kasuga for sticking up for Nakamura, lifting his spirits. Nakamura seems to know he’s hiding something from her. He writes a poem and seals it in a box with her uniform, never to be opened again. The next day the class is all atwitter about him and Nakamura, but the ice is broken when Saeki says good morning to him. Before meeting with Nakamura after school, Kasuga bumps into Saeki, helps her with boxes, and asks her out on a date. She accepts, but Nakamura appears and knows everything. She meets him before his date and makes him wear Saeki’s gym uniform under his clothes for the duration of that date, while she stalks them and watches.

We won’t mince words: this show is good, and it’s only gotten better with each passing week, to the point where it’s the show we look forward to watching most. In a season full of vague and sprawling conflicts, Aku no Hana is incredibly intimate, introspective, and claustrophobic. The art style definitely took some getting used to, but now that we have it is perfectly suited to the tense, unnerving story. There are movements, gestures, and expressions that simply can’t be drawn by hand. Whatever detail is lost in wide shots is gained in extreme close-ups, in which both Saeki and Nakamura’s faces appear more real (and more beautiful).

Kasuga’s torture is alleviated when Saeki “absolves” him with her kind words, and she does seem to exhibit attraction to him now that she’s aware of his existence. But not surprisingly, Kasuga’s relief is short-lived, as Nakamura is determined to mold him into a deviant with whom she can “burn down the town,” both figuratively and possibly literally. Kasuga lets pride go to his head when he accuses her of jealousy – as if she would admit to that even if it was what she felt. No, until we’re proven otherwise, we’re considering Nakamura as a sufferer of psychopathy, as thus defined:

a personality disorder identified by characteristics such as a lack of empathy and remorse, criminality, antisocial behavior, egocentricity, superficial charm, manipulativeness, irresponsibility, impulsivity, and a parasitic lifestyle

Yup, sounds like her.


Rating: 9 (Superior)

Stray Observations:

  • On the Sunday of his date, Nakamura is dressed in black from head to toe, setting off her fiery hair. On the other side of the spectrum, Saeki opts for an angelic heavenly white one-piece.
  • This is the most interesting love triangle (if you can even call it that) we’ve seen from an anime in a long time.
  • Kasuga’s mom continues to be a bit of a scold, but his father seems to understand his recent behavior perfectly.
  • “How do you know where I live?” Really, Kasuga? Don’t you know who you’re dealing with?

Car Cameo: Honda Stream

Mawaru Penguindrum – 03 (Retro Review)

Originally posted 22 July 2011 – Shoma and Kanba still don’t quite believe Himari when she bursts into Survival Strategy mode, but when the penguin hat returns her to her dead state, they start believing pretty darn fast. And like last week, they do things they normally wouldn’t do for her sake: namely breaking into Ringo’s house to snoop around and then tailing her again.

Meanwhile Ringo exhibits more of her mad ravings as she prepares curry for her unwitting future husband, Tabuki, who it turns out is only seven years older than her, and a friend of the family. This girl takes curry very seriously (I even had to make some after watching this). But her carefully-crafted plan to woo him with food backfires when she is met at his door by his gorgeous, age-appropriate girlfriend. I must say at this point we felt pretty bad for Ringo, despite how scary crazy she can be…although Tabuki knocks on the door to his own housethat’s pretty nutty too! ;)

But what with the apple (ringo) imagery in the OP and ED, and Ringo’s fascination with “executing fate as it was written”, it’s pretty likely either she or her diary are the Penguin Drum. Or is that too obvious? Either way, on her way home, in a ludicrously complex sequence of events, she encounters a cat whom she sees as Tabuki’s girlfriend and yells at; the cat then bumps into Himari’s penguin. The two animals fight for a fish as Himari chases them, and they barrel back into Ringo. The pot of curry she’s carrying is sent flying and lands all over her face. Thus she and Himari meet. Now that’s fate!

Now that the thre siblings are properly acquainted with Ringo, it may be easier to coax the drum out of her, whatever it is. One interesting dynamic would be if Ringo knew the bros were in her apartment and were tailing her, and isn’t letting on for whatever reason (they weren’t that stealthy). Whatever the case, it’ll be at least another week before the drum is discovered. Not that we’re complaining; this gorgeous and hilarious series is as addictive as curry.


Rating: 9 (Superior)

Mirai Nikki – 18

The episode flashes back to when Yuno first falls for Yukiteru. Her emotional problems stem from being caged and starved by her parents, and in turn she cages and starves them to death. She then tries to sabotage a “date” between Yukiteru and the class rep Moe, but Moe turns him down anyway. Back in the present, Nishijima needs to know who the third body in Yuno’s house was. Yukiteru’s dad shows up at home, knowing he’s about to be caught by the police and wanting to spend his last day of freedom with him. However, agents from Eleventh kill him while they’re at a shrine. Yukiteru kills a couple agents in turn, then turns the knife on Yuno, learning from Murmur he can bring back his parents if he becomes a god. Yuno doesn’t resist, and Yuki spares her for now.

Oh man, poor Yukiteru. These last couple days have been pure Deadman Wonderland, and now he learns that the current god is literally crumbling away in his realm, now unable to further manipulate the “causality continuum.” Only the new god can bring back Yuki’s mother and now father – and I doubt any of the other diary holders other than him consider that a priority. Yuki may be a weenie but he is one of the saner characters, and I’m sure stabbing someone to death and using another as a human shield was tough to do and will haunt him. Unfortunately if he wants his parents back he’ll have to spill a lot more blood and shed more of his humanity; Eleventh is a tricky and obviously well-protected bastard.

We knew this score though. What we didn’t know was the slightest thing about Yuno’s past, specifically why her house had corpses in it and how she became the gorgeously unhinged lunatic she is today. Well, not surprisingly, the answer to both is abuse. Yuno’s parents were as cracked as she was, trying to mold her into an elite student through the use of incarceration (mirroring Yuno locking Yuki up earlier, in desperation), starvation, and general contempt for her very existence. Her parents were awful people, so Yuno paid them back in kind, but then she was alone. All it took was a token promise from Yukiteru to make her his ‘little bride’ for her to latch onto him, and presumably that’s when the stalker diary became active. Regular guys never interested her. It’s also clear she harbors no plans to become a god. If she has to die so Yukiteru can become one, so be it. By his hand, so much the better.


Rating: 3.5

Mirai Nikki – 12

Uryuu’s threats fail to spook Kurusu, who has his men storm the hospital. Yuki is cornered by his men, and he goes in the hospital to take over. Yuno stops him, and there is a standoff, until a flash grenade and one of Uryuu’s bombs go off, turning their floor into rubble. Kurusu has Yuno by the throat with a scalpel, but Yuki manages to shoot him. Nakajima arrives to arrest his chief, after hearing voice recordings on Uryuu’s phone. No longer a detective, Kurusu snaps his phone, killing him. After everything blows over, Yuki and Yuno take a trip to his dad’s house, and Yuno deletes a warning from Akisu from Yuki’s phone.

Whenever four diary holders converge, you know there’s going to be potential for lots of explosions and blood. This week doesn’t disappoint, with a Godhood-hungry Kurusu hunting Yuki and Yuno and Uryuu working diligently to stay on everybody’s and nobody’s side. His motivation is clear: save his kid’s life once he’s God. Once that’s no longer possible, it falls to another diary holder to save his son. A a cold, crazed lunatic the past two weeks finally softens and accepts his dead end. We’re now running out of diary holders.

Now everything’s tied up with a neat little pink bow, right? Not so fast; while Yuki has arguably never felt closer to Yuno – even confessing his love and using that love to aim his gun true to save her – the fact remains she’s still nuts. The series goes out of its way to make their lovers’ getaway as forboding as possible, what with the skulls and syringes in her duffel. We’d gone off about how Yuki should just stop worrying and go with the flow vis-a-vis Yuno, even if it kills him. But lord knows what she has planned.


Rating: 3.5

Persona 4: The Animation – 11

Another victim is killed, but never appeared on television, vexing the gang. Kuma comes through the TV into the real world with a new human form beneath his mascot suit. The detective, Naoto, reports the killer is in police custody, but doesn’t know who he is. Mitsuo, a loner who is stalking Yukiko, is suspicious, but then he shows up on the Midnight Channel.

Not a lot happened this week. There’s another victim, more half-hearted investigation by the gang, a belated introduction of Naoto the detective, and a couple appearances of a really creepy guy with blank eyes. And Kuma has a ridiculous human form now, which is…interesting. Oh yeah, the gang is treated to huge bowls of noodles and meat on the house, only to be charged afterward. In other words, this was an episodeloaf.

It was made from real episode parts, chopped and formed, but lacking a designated binder; an egg. But the loaf wasn’t completely devoid of nutrition. We at least now finally know who that detective kid is, even if he’s still pretty tight-lipped. What we don’t know is if the introvert Mitsuo is a genuine threat, or just another victim of whomever is throwing people into the TV and killing them. I’m sure we’ll find out though. And Naoto still needs a persona.


Rating: 3

Mirai Nikki – 02

Amano’s school is bombed by the terrorist Minene Uryuu, AKA the Ninth. She then holds the school hostage and promises to finish the job until they hand him and Yuno over. They do, but the Fourth, a policeman, arrives and evens the odds. They’re able to defeat the Ninth with teamwork, but she escapes before they can kill her. Amano, Yuno, and the Fourth agree to form a “Diary Alliance”.

A school being bombed: we remember that about the brief OVA preview for this show. Turns out the perpetrator is a psychopathic pink maid with purple hair who was able to fill a school with bombs and mines. She wants godhood, and she’s good and ready to kill whoever gets in her way. This episode did a good job establishing just how much danger Amano is in, but also how his future/destiny is always changing as his actions deviate from what the diaries say.

And it isn’t only his phone. Everyone has a special diary that gives them an edge. Amano’s sweats the details; Yuno’s is all about him, whom she calls “Yukkii”, while the detective and bomb maid have diaries of investigation and escape, respectively. It’s a neat plot device that I hope the series continues to use in clever ways. It is indeed an interesting narrative that comes right out and gives you an outcome, and then puts the onus of preventing that outcome on the characters. It’s also nice that they didn’t forget about Amano’s prowess with darts, which will surely keep coming in handy moving forward.


Rating: 3.5

Sket Dance 25

Switch’s flashback continues. Having recieved a death threat, Sawa enlists the aid of the Usui brothers. But when he’s shot down by Switch for the umpteenth time, Kazuyoshi tells them to go off without him, believing Sawa’s best off with Switch. They head out, and a girl named Yukino arrives at Sawa’s door. She describes a creepy stalker who pulled a knife on someone in middle school, who Kazuyoshi spots behind a pole and pursues. When he catches him, he learns that Yukino is the knife-wielding stalker. She finds Switch and Sawa and pulls a knife on them. Switch protects Sawa, takes the blade in the chest, and dies. Kazuyoshi is devastated, and blames himself for his brother’s death. Sawa moves away, and the three are down to one. To honor his brother’s memory, Kazuyoshi takes on the title and appearance of “Switch”, and studies hard to amass the great amount of information he possesses. Bossun reaches out to him and he joins a new trio in the Sket-dan.

I’m not sure why what was a consistently zany, over-the-top comedy would want to try straight-up serious drama, but Sket Dance really hit it out of the park with this Switch arc, totally changing gears from its usual fare. We’re thrown into a very tragic story, where a brother has a bad day and says some stupid things he shouldn’t, and it gets his little brother killed. When you add it all up: Kazuyoshi not accompaning Switch and Sawa; his curt last words to Switch; and finally egging on the psychopathic Yukino then letting her loose, it’s hard to argue with him. Gone half-mad with guilt and grief, Kazuyoshi makes an incredible decision: to stop being Kazuyoshi.

He hasn’t spoken since the day of that decision, except with the software than combines his voice with Masafumi’s. And the young Switch we saw this week and last was actually someone we never knew; it was the big bro who turned out to be our Switch. Very strange, but it definitely works. This wasn’t a perfect episode – Sawa was kind of a bland airhead most of the time, and the story relies a little too often on convenient coincidence, but as this was one of the best episodes of a series that has been anything but serious to this point, I’m giving it top marks.


Rating: 4