Shingeki no Bahamut: Virgin Soul – 07

While watching the first half of this Baha Soul, I felt like the calm before the storm achieved last week didn’t need the supplemental calm we got here. Just get on with the parade and let things unravel.

Don’t get me wrong, Nina is adorable as always, especially post-first-date, it’s ironic to think the fact she dressed Mugaro as a girl means Sofiel can’t tell he’s the kid she’s looking for, despite staring straight at him.

It’s also laudable for Kaisar to warn his king not to attend the parade, because unpleasant doings sure to transpire. But we know Charioce isn’t going to miss a parade celebrating his great day of victory—when Cocytus fell and with it the fear of demons—for fear of demons.

But when the parade finally starts, the tension keeps building until that first concussive blast, followed by several more. It’s a terror bombing the king was almost daring the demons to pull off, and being surrounded and unable to retreat is no sweat off his back.

It’s a nice touch that in a carefully-planned battle in which she was meant to be the pièce de résistance for the resistance, Nina doesn’t have a clue what’s going on. She’s suddenly scooped up by Azazel, who proceeds, in hilarious fashion, to alternated between staring deeply and intensely into Nina’s eyes and hugging her.

But the blushing never comes. Nina’s heart doesn’t race for Azazel anymore, not necessarily because of anything he did, but because of what her mystery date did: make her once general discomfort with pretty men much more specific. She doesn’t know why she’s not transforming even after almost being kissed by Azazel, but she also seems relieved. I know I would be.

I can’t fault for Nina not cooperating with Azazel – she wants her dragon form under control, not weaponized, and certainly doesn’t want to hurt people. At best, she’s annoyed by the kind, shrugging off missing him in the parade (incidentally, if they’d locked eyes while he passed I wonder if she’d see her date and if her heart would’ve raced accordingly. Alas).

But, Nina not playing ball with Azazel means the demons are dealt another defeat, picked off one by one by Charioce’s forces. Many start to think they were betrayed by Azazel, until he swoops in to fight beside them. But when they asked what the hell happened with the red dragon, he has no answer.

Post-credits, the big tank demon and sultry demon are taken out by a flurry of arrows and the fist of one of those giant golem/mecha guys (that don’t seem like a good idea in a crowded city), respectively. Azazel is also in big trouble, and Nina still isn’t yet caught up on what’s even happening.

Finally, the preview was handled by Gabriel and Sofiel, who haughtily boast of the fact they’re beautiful gods.

Advertisements

Comet Lucifer – 04

comlu41

Ugh…I think I’ve had about enough of Comet Lucifer. One can’t dispute it’s plucky and full of joie de vivre, but no amount of pleasant roof repair antics or Disney-style vegetable dances are enough to make up for the abject stupidity of both the good and bad guys.

comlu42

Gus is on the phone most of the episode, pack just wants to cut everything, and Alfried is a no-joke pedophile. I lump Gus in with the other two stooges because he assembled this dream team. Roman shows up to the cafe aboard a giant mecha that looks ready-made to cause more damage to it, brings a cow which is supposedly slaughtered off-camera for a barbeque that night, though we later see the cow still chained to a fence. Is anyone feeding it? At the barbeque, Roman tries to force Kaon to eat meat, causing her to run to her crush Sogo, who isn’t emotionally available.

comlu43

Then the storm arrives on a day Kaon and Sogo go to school. Really? School? We haven’t seen them go to school once this whole show, and now the show wants us to believe they have to go at all costs? But by far the dumbest blunder by any character is Do Mon going out to help batten down his crush Vee’s house, leaving Felia all alone in the opened Cafe.

Sorry for all the italics this week, but does no one remember the events of the last three episodes? Or that Felia is a child who shouldn’t be left alone under any circumstances? Nope, they leave her alone, and Alfried’s surveillance leads the baddies right to her. Sogo runs away from another awkward moment with Kaon, right past the Hummer she’s in, runs in the cafe, and simply stands there with his mouth hanging open.

And don’t get me started about Telescope Guy.

6_brav2droppedblank

Comet Lucifer – 03

comlu31

After plucking their host’s last straw by knocking over his perfect pot of curry, Sogo, Kaon, Felia, and the very irritatingly-voiced Moura are kicked out of the cafe, which thankfully still shows signs of the damage Moura caused. They take Felia downtown and show her the sights, and we get a very pleasant, detailed, yet wordless montage of their fun, and likely expensive, day to keep Felia entertained.

comlu32

Everything is chipper until in her excitement Felia bumps into a passerby, sending her pigeon-cat cake flying. She tries to use her telekinesis to save it, but Moura startles her, and the cake is dumped on a purple-haired cafe patron, who seemed annoyed but not unreasonably angry with the incident. Turns out he’s a master hacker-terrorist who has been watching Felia for some time, and judging from his expressions and gestures in his dark office, he’s also quite unhinged in the “creepy unhinged villain” kind of way.

comlu33

In order to induce as many expressions of fear and worry on his “mademoiselle” Felia (which he watches with relish on cameras, which…ew), he throws the entire city’s traffic control system into chaos, thus turning the city into a game board and the kids game pieces he moves around by controlling the ample technology around them. Even Gus and his blonde buddy aren’t immune from the disarray.

comlu34

But every time the Bad Guy tries to close in on Felia, Sogo and Kaon split up and misdirect and serve as decoys to keep him off balance, until he gets angry and steps up his game, activating a spider-type mecha to pursue Kaon and Felia on a cable car. Sogo gets as high up into the air as possible and Kaon throws Soura to him, activating Soura’s mecha transformation.

comlu35

Once Soura is in play, it’s Game Over for the bad guy, as his mecha is beaten back and the cable breaks. Felia uses her “force power” to give the cable car a soft landing, while the bad guy falls victim to the cable’s recoil, which gives him a reverse mohawk.

The physics (magic hoverboards and telekinesis aside, of course) were pretty solid, right up until here; such a huge cable would surely have taken off his head, if not more. Instead he gets an old-style anime villain comeuppance, even though he surely put dozens of people in the hospital with his reckless antics…all for his personal entertainment.

comlu36

Even the most gorgeous sunsets of the Fall season can’t save this episode, or this show, from the inescapable fact that it is artful, attractive, and often thrilling (and thus watchable) but utterly lacking in substance, making it my Fall guilty pleasure. It’s cotton candy; empty calories with no payoff; a bunch of elaborate fun stuff that happens, and then it’s over. Sure, Alfried joins Gus’ dream team, but we just saw Alfried fail miserably to a couple of kids, so it’s not like he’s that much of a threat. He’s just an overwrought creeper.

6_brav2

Shimoneta – 08

shi81

This week’s Shimoneta was a little limp, if you’ll pardon the expression, starting with Kosuri. Despite being excellently voiced by Hocchan, I was worried she’d come to feel like an extraneous character who wouldn’t add anything new to the equation but simply be another cute girl to tempt Tanukichi. The “guy wakes up with girl sleeping next to him” gag has been driven into the ground, as is the “threaten guy with deadly force with a smile” gag.

shi82

Worse still, we get introduced to yet another girl in Tsukimigusa Oboro, a novice Decency Squad prefect assigned to the school. Aside from confiscating anything vaguely stick- or hole-shaped, she’s all but devoid of personality; a stiff, wooden cipher. At least she doesn’t show any signs of falling in love with Tanukichi, but the fact she can be so easily convinced to overturn her judgment of what is lewd and what isn’t suggests she’s not very good at her issued job, lessening the threat.

shi83

As for Okuma-san, when talking about how he was recruited to SOX to Kosuri over dinner (she’s apparently moved in), his eyes sparkle and his tone suggests he has feelings for Ayame. Kosuri’s knowing look is the first sign she’s detected weakness in Tanukichi, and that’s one thing she doesn’t tolerate in colleagues, we learn, is weakness.

shi84

Anna’s messy mishaps always toe the line between hilarious and gross, but being “backed up” due to the prefect confiscating all the school’s TP was firmly on the gross side. Not that poop doesn’t have a place in sexual culture (I ain’t judgin’!), I’d rather have my Anna not almost soil herself while delivering a devastating kick to a member of Gathered Fabric (a group SOX doesn’t even try to deal with this week)…or randomly lick the StuCo table.

shi85

While Oboro remains undeveloped, after a night of education and a day spent infiltrating a neighboring school where Ayame wishes to distribute lewd materials and practices, Kosuri goes through some changes, and not the biological kind. She shifts from the cute little sister act to deciding to treat Takukichi like a slave, belieiving she’s far more useful to Blue Snow and he’s been dragging SOX down from the start.

And while she may have been right about that before, Tanukichi has grown less and less reluctant to assist Ayame, whom he’s come to respect and admire almost as much as Pre-Awakening Anna. What he doesn’t agree with are Kosuri’s manipulative methods, playing around with people’s hearts to get her way. Still, Kosuri is calling him out for perceived lack of commitment and usefulness, and the gloves—or rather the striped socks—have come off in a hurry.

7_ses

Shimoneta – 07

sox71

I must admit, I have my doubts about the show introducing a new semi-rival sex terrorist group, along with a new character to add to what is quickly becoming the “SOX harem.” But at the same time, introducing the 10-volume “Okuma x Goriki” BL series is a delicious way of ensuring even when he’s trying to hang with Goriki to avoid Anna, there is no peace for our protagonist. Goriki may not read anything into spending their free time together and making Tanukichi lunch, but Ayame and Otome read a lot into it!

sox72

And like I said, that’s when Tanukichi is trying to avoid Anna, which is inherently difficult because she’s a lot craftier and more devious than Goriki, and is able to send him off on pointless errands just to get Tanukichi alone. Her desires are evolving from wanting her would-be lover to “eat” her to her wanting to “eat” him, and since she’s so much quicker and stronger than Tanukichi, he doesn’t have much say in the matter, and he’s only saved by Anna having a premature “crisis”…all over his goddamn face. Naturally, Otome isn’t far away in the bushes, furiously committing the tawdry scene to paper.

sox73

There is also something to be said for, in addition to concealing themselves form authorities, SOX is charged with keeping their brand credible, which is hard to do when rogue groups like “Gathered Fabric” (led by “White Peak”) pull stunts that fail to inspire the oppressed masses, and indeed do harm to SOX’s reputation and squander its political capital. Tanukichi doesn’t see them as a big deal, but Ayame believes GF must be “eradicated” like the damaging knock-off group she believes them to be.

sox74

That brings us to Onigashira Kosuri, who’s father is a wealthy and influential part of the Establishment. Kosuri, long suffering ennui in such a stifling environment, has an earnest desire to stir the shit, as we see when she launches yogurt balloons at the morality cops. She also reveals her dual personalities—one playing a pure and innocent girl, the other an excited pervert; complete with differing hairstyles—in her first deakings with Tanukichi.

At first, she suspects he’s exactly what he is on the surface—a goody-two-shoes StuCo member. But when he proves to her he’s a SOX member, she literally latches onto him with abandon, completely ignoring the impropriety of him being so close to someone much younger than him.

sox75

Tanukichi helps Kosuri convince Ayame that she’s worth having around, as she can supply funding and materials that can facilitate their work, so the addition of Kosuri makes sense, and Hocchan does an okay job with her voice(s), but I’m still not enamored of yet another girl who is basically another love interest for Tanukichi, whose presence can only subtract time better spent in the core triangle of Tanukichi, Ayame, and Anna. But hey, show, prove me wrong.

8_ses

Shimoneta – 06

shi61

With the porn of Yotsuga Forest successfully distributed, Ayame decides the next issue SOX should tackle is the development and distribution of sex aids, from lubes to mechanical vibrators. These things have to be made/built from scratch because they’re no longer in store. Their task is akin to building the pyramids with only the original tech on hand.

It’s tiring work, most of all for Tanukichi, who has to endure a constant stream of dirty talk from Ayame and Otome, but is called “sick” and a “pervert” when he suggest they focus equally on male and female “products for health and beauty.” It’s a hypcrisy that persists in Ayame, who at the end of the day is more naive than Okuma, who had a father in the trade.

shi62

Tanukichi also falls victim to a misunderstanding when he pays a visit to Hyouka to pick up the wireless, remote control mini-vibrators she built for them. Not only is Hyouka naked under her robe (after accidentally falling into a water tank), but she wants Tanukichi to repay him by showing her how his “cucumber prepares for battle.”

They’re very close when Anna barges in, and Tanukichi has to come up with a lie to satisfy her in a hurry. He manages to succeed by offering one of the two vibrators to Anna, calling it a “Power Stone.”

shi63

Anna makes a blingy pendant of it, but when the remote malfuncitons, it’s stuck on, vibrating her bust, resulting in what can only be described as a hilariously ridiculous spectacle. It also turns Anna on, to the extent she dismisses Goriki, locks herself in the StuCo office with Tanukichi, and proceeds to hold him down.

Tanukichi, about to be raped by someone who has no idea what rape entails, finds his own member barely able to withstand the onslaught of Anna on top of him, but he manages to “preserve his chastity” until the vibrator breaks from overuse, ending the immediate crisis.

shi64

The longer-term crisis for Tanukichi, of course, is that Anna immediately demands a new “Power Stone” to replace the one that broke. Worse, whenever he so much as looks or speaks to another girl, Anna grows violently jealous. SOX has truly created a monster.

With the daughter of a high-ranking Morality official getting excited about SOX’s terrorist activities, it looks like he’ll soon have one more girl filling his ears with dirty talk and threatening to incur more of Anna’s wrath.

What had been Tanukichi’s Boring World Where the Concept of Dirty Jokes Doesn’t Exist has now become an annoying, stressful, often life-threatening world where dirty jokes—and acts—are rampant and unpredictable. But definitely not boring.

8_ses

Shimoneta – 05

shi51

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.

shi52

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.

shi53

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.

shi54

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!

shi55

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.

8_ses

Shimoneta – 04

shi41

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.

shi42

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.

shi43

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.

shi44

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.

shi45

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.

shi46

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.

9_ses

Shimoneta – 03

shi31

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.

shi32

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).

shi33

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!

shi34

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?

8_ses

Shimoneta – 02

shi21

To borrow a couple of sophomoric double entendres from Blue Snow, Okuma is in a tight spot; between a rock and a hard place. He admires and idolizes the pure, perfect Anna (who shows no signs of being anything other than that, with no hidden dark side), but is being forced through blackmail and coersion by Ayame to undermine her.

I will say, both Ayame and Okuma are well-positioned in terms of hiding in plain sight, and Okuma’s story of how he was ostracized when his “terrorist” father was put away and met the “guardian angel” Anna in grade school (something she doesn’t remember) that inspired him to live a purer life, is a great cover story.

But Ayame is stripping the primacy of his goal away as she exposes him to more and more misbehavior, as Okuma can’t deny the thrill he gets from finding ultra-rare smutty mags in an abandoned cabin, like buried treasure. When the imagery therein is copied and distributed around school, Anna is so ignorant to its insidiousness she herself frames a picture of a girl performing fellatio in the StuCo office!

shi22

That gets to another bigger social issue about the whole anti-dirty-joke law and PM devices: real-world Japan’s brith rate can’t keep up with its aging population; if laws were put into place to block the people’s natural sexual development and keep them in the dark about reproduction (if such a thing were even possible), it would be a de facto form of population control. Maybe the Japan of Shimoneta wants the population to decrease.

In any case, Anna’s powerful, driven politician mother is introducing a new bill that would step up the oppression even further, legalizing the monitoring of every action and conversation in the country. With no stones unturned, Ayame’s terrorism could not continue, her crusade to educate the ignorant masses would end in defeat, and most importantly, the people would have no privacy whatsoever in the new surveillance state. Ayame makes sure to impress upon Okuma that while she has her own selfish reasons for doing what she does, she’s also working in best interests of a free society.

shi23

Thus, the fight must not only continue, but be stepped up. Ayame dresses Okuma up like a Blue Snow decoy to give students dirty word eye exams during school physicals while she steals the boys’ urine samples, hoping to start a scandal in the school when tests reveal high levels of masturbation. The operation also results in Anna yelling out the howler above.

shi24

Anna isn’t portrayed as an idol fool here, but actually comes quite close to exposing and capturing Okuma-in-drag more than once, and presses her pursuit of him with heretofore unseen (and somewhat frightening) superhuman strength and speed. Game Over for Okuma and Ayame is rarely less than a few seconds or inches (heh-heh) away, but with one last misdirection, Ayame manages to save Okuma and make off with the urine.

The fact that the entire final exchange is witnessed by a painter in a crow’s nest—likely the same painter who painted the pure “Sound of Music”-style painting Okuma lingered on—means the ranks of Ayame’s SOX are likely to swell in the near future, which bodes well for defeating Anna and stopping her mom’s overreaching legislation.

8_ses

Shimoneta – 01 (First Impressions)

shi11

Rundown: In a titular “boring world where the concept of dirty jokes doesn’t exist”, because they are forbidden by moral law, Okuma Tanukichi manages to transfer from one of the least moral to the most moral high school in the country, to be closer to his crush, StuCo President Nishikinomiya Anna.

His dreams of a pure high school life are dashed when he’s approached by the Vice President, Kajou Ayame, whose alter-ego “Blue Snow” (or “Blue in the Snow Field”) is a “decency terrorist”, who uses his feelings for Anna and her own high standing in the school to blackmail him into helping to found the “Anti-Societal Organization” or SOX with her.

shi12

Analysis: Shimoneta[…] may have a ridiculously long title and a concept as high as a kite, but it quickly commits to and fully owns its silliness. Aside from a few choice pieces of sexy dialogue uttered by Blue Snow, most of the “dirty jokes” she whips up aren’t just tame, but awkwardly and often arbitrarily used, which makes perfect sense in the context of the show. Kajou Ayame may be a serial distributor of blue material, but she’s new to it too, and wields it with wild abandon and gusto.

shi13

Okuma may actually be more well-versed than Ayame, due to his time spent at a school of lower moral fiber, which, in addition to his dirty joke terrorist father, makes him a natural target for Ayame’s gaze. And if you strip away the blue sheen, this show has some pretty dark and interesting undertones about an invasive, oppressive police state that leaves its youth so cripplingly ignorant to the act of reproduction, that a few moments of Ayame’s antics are able to “finish off” the vast majority of them at a school assembly.

The metaphor is tired, but apt: Ayame aims to break the dam and restore this boring world to a state of natural sexual freedom, and whether he likes it or not, Okuma and her are uniquely positioned to make meaningful change, and have a lot of fun in the process.

shi13a

Shimoneta’s dialogue—at once stuffed with bleeped bad words and hilarious euphemisms (and a whole lot of incorrect information about how babies are made)—crackles and pops as the wild Kajou darts across the screen, a human spectacle with a mask made from pantsu and a towel that threatens to fall off and reveal all.

President Anna and Treasurer Raiki serve as agents of the system and defenders of the oppressive and ultimately unnatural order, but interesting, neither seem like they’re hypocrites, making their battle against the front-line revolutionaries Ayame and Okuma more interesting than simply good-vs.-evil (that, and the fact Okuma deeply admires Anna).

shi14

This is a battle between ignorance and knowledge, and Ayame is the Eve who has tasted of the fruit and works towards the creation of an exciting world where the concept of dirty jokes, among other things, does exist. Which sounds like the ingredients for a boisterous, refreshing comedy…but comedy tempered by the knowledge that hundreds of millions of people in the real world live under regimes that stifle free expression as “violations of the established order.”

I’m not sure the show will get that serious (the jaunty dance number at the end would seem to indicate not very), but the undertones are there, and they lend righteousness to Blue Snow’s crusade that rises this show above farce and dirty jokes for dirty jokes’ sake.

8_ses

Ghost in the Shell: ARISE – Alternative Architecture – 10 (Fin)

aaa101

ARISE – Alternative Architecture last episode wasn’t just a glorified prologue to the upcoming film that continues the re-imagining of Ghost in the Shell, but a petty satisfying conclusion to the ten-episode television adaptation of the four ARISE movies. It’s an ellipsis, to be sure, but I didn’t feel cheated. It’s a good place to pause, and created anticipation for what’s to come.

aa102

Pyrophoric Cult’s second part succeeded as both end and prologue to ARISE because it captured and distilled the cyberpunk fun of Ghost in the Shell. Things are pretty simple this week: transport Hozuki’s head to the Americans, where her secrets will be extracted and she’ll be sent into exile.

The show’s dry and somewhat dark (in this case) sense of humor comes out in the way Kusanagi says goodbye to the Hozuki head before closing her in a convenient carrying case, then tells her men that as Hozuki is still technically alive, they need to treat her as such, right before unceremoniously heaving the case into the back of a van like a sack of rice, making a satisfying clank in the process.

It’s a great expression of Kusanagi’s frustration with the piddling transport job, as well as a nice F-U to Hozuki for all the trouble she’s caused.

aaa103

Not long after the job starts, though, Pyromaniac escapes from custody with the help of Kurtz who just waltzes into the facility where he’s being held, a rare case of hands-on action on her part that would incriminate her if her quarry weren’t someone capable of wiping all security records of said facility.

Before he escapes, he hacks into the cyberbrains of all the scientists analyzing him, some of whom are American. Among those codes is the capability of launching a nasty-looking American drone helicopter to harass Kusanagi’s convoy.

aa104

The drone doesn’t destroy them, but leads them to an American base, where a platoon of Fire-Starter-hacked special forces wearing optical camouflage are waiting. The purpose of the multi-pronged attack on Kusanagi is ostensibly to take out any possible agents who are a legitimate threat to the existence of Fire-Starter virus, which include her and Hozuki.

But Kusanagi won’t go out without a fight, and indeed never seems to panic, even though she and her whole team have been lured right where the enemy wants them. Ever the level-headed military woman, she splits her men up and delegates tasks to them, each according to their skills, while she dives into her personal net, wrangles up an impromptu strike force of mercenary hackers to disable the hacked special forces.

aaa015

Once that’s done, she manages to find Pyromaniac himself and enters his “world”, which resembles the Kuzan battlefield that presumably embittered him to his present crusade. Yet she’s almost disappointed to learn he’s not even a “true” ghost, only an amalgam of false memories created by Fire-Starter; a glorified A.I. Even the banter he delivers turns out to be wooden because it was simply uploaded to give him a little more personality.

Most impressively, while Kusanagi may appear to be on the ropes, in reality she’s in complete control of the situation, creating a decoy of herself to fool Pyro and then surrounding him with delete protocols. All that was missing from her coup-de-grace was shouting “BANG!” as she formed a gun with her hand, though that would admittedly been a bit cliche.

aaa106

Thus Kusanagi gets a victory in this final week, one that’s both convincing and satisfying, and the product of relatively easy-to-follow teamwork, both from her unit guys and Aramaki pulling the political strings. Sure, her direct interfacing with and deleting Pyro may have been Kurtz’s plan all along, as Kurtz’s parting shot is one of confidence and anticipation rather than anger at being foiled. But the next confrontation between Kusanagi and her former CO will be one of many matters for the film.

aaa107

For now, I’ll enjoy Kusanagi’s provisional win, and the somewhat cheeky ending of Kusanagi appearing in a military uniform to receive formal thanks from the Prime Minister. Even Aramaki doesn’t want to hear about some of the things Kusanagi learned while in her dive with Pyro; proportionally speaking, the Prime Minister is completely in the dark about what the good Major and her team did and how they did it.

All the Prime Minister needs or cares to see is the smiling, uniformed Shell standing at attention, telling him it’s all in a day’s work, while it’s the jumpsuit-wearing Ghost and her cohorts working in the deep cyber-shadows to keep his government—and his brain—in one piece.

9_brav2

Ghost in the Shell: ARISE – Alternative Architecture – 09

aaa91

In the final fifth of AAA, Kusanagi’s team grows tantalizingly closer to Fire-Starter, locating and capturing a man believed to be only one degree of separation from the unseen antagonist of the series. This man, called “Pyromania” by the Yanks, likes to spout quasi-religious drivel as he blows up airliners.

aaa92

About the Americans: Aramaki has little choice but to give them command of the operation to capture Pyromania, but Kusanagi sees the kick-down to observer status as a challenge: no matter what the bureaucracy decides, she’ll prove which team is more capable of getting the job done.

aaa922

Kusanagi believes she has the edge because she has access to Hozuki, or rather, the head of Hozuki, recovered from the attempt on her life. Kusanagi hopes the considerable state secrets contained within Hozuki’s brain will prove enticing enough to bait Pyromania.

aaa95

Once the operation is underway, Pyromania manages to hack many of the joint teams supporting cast; even the American Jeril is hacked and starts shooting her 9mm at Hozuki’s titanium brain case. But once the hacked parties are neutralized, Kusanagi, Ishikawa, and three Logicomas begin the cyberbattle with Pyro, visualized with 3D graphic representations. I have to admit, the battle gets a little chaotic and hard to follow on the screen, but I kept up with what was supposedly happening.

aaa96

In the end, Kusanagi is able to pinpoint Pyro’s location and take him into custody, but they aren’t able to recover any more information about Fire-Starter from his cyberbrain, as it’s all been wiped. But that clearly isn’t going to stop Kusanagi from getting her man.

aaa93

Meanwhile, her former commander Kurtz seems to be intricately involved in the Fire-Starter affair, pulling strings from her rather ungainly Ferrari stretch limo, hoping to gain control of the “third world”.

It always seems to come down to someone close to Kusanagi’s past. And on that subject, not much ground was covered (i.e. none) on Kusanagi’s struggles with her identity; suffice it to say she seems content to define herself as a leader of those who will stand before extremists who would use all the technology available to them to wreak havoc. And right now, Fire-Starter is her nemesis.

8_brav2