Arpeggio of Blue Steel: Ars Nova – 06

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Haruna creates a Makie decoy and distracts the human soldiers while Kirishima (still in a stuffed bear) protects the real Makie. After her contact with Makie, Haruna finds she isn’t able to kill the soldiers, so attacks them non-lethally. This drains her energy, and the decoy dissipates. The soldiers find Makie and Kirishima and open fire, but Haruna shields them in time, becoming pinned down herself. She pleads for someone to save them, and Iona and the I-401 arrive to do just that.

After last week’s fiasco, we approached this episode in a bit of a sour mood and with much trepidation. Could Blue Steel manage to pull out of this tailspin? Things were looking grim in the first minutes, with Makie’s lame dying creator-dad breaking out this gem:

You were created as a puppet. And yet, I came to care for you. And now, you are attempting to form a bond with the enemies of humanity. How ironic.

It’s not ironic, it’s just freaking stupid. Anyway, we weren’t about to let this show break our spirits and defeat us, any more than Haruna was going to let those army dudes lay a hand on her dear new friend. So we decided to accentuate the positives. Fortunately, there were far more than we anticipated.

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First of all, as the episode progressed we actually bought into Haruna’s sudden friendship with Makie. She’s Fog after all, so a day of contact is apparently enough for her to form an intense bond with a human, to the point she fights with everything she’s got, but stops herself from killing. All her amassed data and observations led to that bond and the development of emotions, which end up circumventing her Fog directives. There’s also a nice symmetry to Kirishima getting caught up in Haruna’s new-found compassion, just as Haruna got caught up in Kirishima’s sabre-rattling in the naval battle.

Secondly, there was no shortage of “Fuck Yeah!” moments throughout: From Haruna stepping out into the hall to face off with the soldiers, to all of her myriad bullet-deflecting and gun-melting, helicopter-killing tactics. Ridiculous as it was, watching Teddy-Kirishima kick ass was still hilariously awesome to behold. And Iona’s timely arrival and subsequent pwnage of the soldiers—irrespective of her past beef with her Fog sisters—was also most satisfying. This episode did much to assuage the grief last week’s stoked; for the moment, the series seems to be back on track.

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Rating:7 (Very Good)

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Binbougami ga! – 13 (Fin)

Ichiko stops Teddy and Momou from soiling Momiji and she escapes out the window with her. Ranmaru catches them in midair, and they hitch a ride with Bobby to get away. Teddy and Momou are in hot pursuit, but Ranmaru takes on Momou. Using Bobby’s “Jazz Hyper” charm, Ichiko takes on Teddy, but gets knocked out. Keita looms over her when she awakes, and she asks him a “hypothetical” question about Momoji that she already knows the answer to, she races back to Momiji, catching her as she’s falling from the bridge, then dropping her in a passing garbage barge. She returns to her normal, abrasive self.

Well now, that was a pleasant surprise: a finale that tied everything up neatly and entertainingly, completed Sakura Ichiko’s arc, and providing plenty of high-stakes action and more kinetic comedy. The episode juxtaposes scenes of motion and stillness (with appropriate changes in tone) and gives the whole cast something to do – even Nadeshiko has a (real) cameo. Ranmaru and Momou’s duel is particularly badass, with all the requisite pre-battle banter one would expect of a shounen anime. But one reason this episode worked is that its resolution wasn’t as simple as Ichiko’s original goal of saving Momiji.

At the episode’s beginning, Ichiko didn’t want Momiji to change back because “things were easier this way”, by the end, and with prodding by both Teddy and Keita, she decides to not allow Momiji sacrifice her godhood. But she claims, as always, to be doing it for herself – as friendly and lovable as Momiji-chan was, Ichiko knew deep down it wasn’t right, sparring with the insulting foul-mouthed Binbougami-ga was simply more entertaining. We’d also say that Momiji’s mission was successful: Ichiko’s gone from a lonely, bitchy luck-vacuum to someone with friends she cares about and shares her fortune.


Rating: 7 (Very Good)

Binbougami ga! – 12

After being bathed by Ichiko and Ranmaru, Momiji has lost her powers and become a regular human, who begins to be noticed by everyone around her. This irks Ichiko, who still suspects treachery. Her suspicions go too far when she makes Momiji cry and run away. Ichiko catches her and apologizes. Life continues on with normal Momiji, until Teddy gets thrown into a garbage truck and returns to his normal twisted self. Teddy and Moumou then plot to make Momiji dirty so her God powers return.

After eleven episodes of being annoyed, pestered, poked and prodded by the God of Misfortune, this week Ichiko comes to grips with a prospect heretofore unthinkable: a kind, pleasant Binboda Momiji who has no desire to bother her at all; on the contrary, only wants to be her friend and to be happy. We don’t blame Ichiko for being skeptical…initially. Callously throwing dinner Momiji lovingly made back in her face was a bit too mean, but we did like how the art style turned to Death Note mode, with Ichiko as the ever-skeptical L and Momiji as the outwardly affable Yagami Light.

Of course, that’s a great anime being parodied by a just-okay anime for not much reason. But for what it’s worth, we enjoyed the nice Momiji, while she lasted, and to its credit, the episode didn’t end with “everything back to the way it was”; a revitalized Momiji in trickster mode getting right back to making Ichiko’s life a living hell. Instead, it cuts to the credits with Momiji willingly facing her fate, which is kind of sad. Ichiko was so busy suspecting a scheme, she didn’t stop to appreciate what a nice person and potential friend the powerless Binboda Momiji was.


Rating: 6 (Good)

Dantalian no Shoka 8

Two characters from pevious episodes return with new phantom book problems. First Camilla, who acquires the Book of Equivalence to continually barter until she gets bored and gets Dalian a teddy she wanted. Second, Huey’s war buddy Armand is suffering from the effects of the Book of Relationship, actually two books in possession of two lovers, only his fiance believes he’s cheating on her. He isn’t, but her suspicions are enough to incur the wrath of the book.

This week had the feeling of another respite episode; Huey and Dalian are not that involved and the stakes and danger are quite low in both segments. While I don’t have a problem with Camilla and Armand returning, I do have a problem with how just about everyone in this episode, including these two, are complete morons, as a more-moe-than-usual Dalian remarks. The bookkepper gets things started by accidentally selling an extremely dangerous, potentially deadly book. Then Camilla uses it as an afternoon’s diversion. Huey and Dalian chase her across a dozen locations in which she makes exchanges. Can’t she just play croquet or something?

Then there’s Armand, who barges into Huey’s house, nearly kills Dalian and Camilla (who’s still there for some reason), and also seems to set the house on fire – yet we never see how it’s put out. Armand’s an idiot for getting mixed up in another book and not notifying his lieutenant the moment he came across it, while his fiancee Lianna is an idiot for thinking every time he looks at or talks to another woman, he’s a traitorous traitor who deserves death. I also had a problem with them actually letting her kill him (to fulfill ’till death do us part’) and so cavalierly bringing him back like it was nothing. These books are not toys!


Rating: 2.5