Little Witch Academia – 21

While Akko is singularly invested in finding the remaining two words to release the Triskelion, she also learns that what she’d have regarded as a “selfish”, if successful, mission to bring Diana back has altered her relationship with her and her toadies, for the better.

Barbara and Hanna earnestly thank Akko for acting when they could not, while Diana expresses genuine concern for Akko in suggesting she heed Ursula’s warning. The power of that warning—to not go near the Wagandea tree to attempt to unlock a word, lest one get hit by toxic pollen that robs a witch of the ability to use magic or fly—is gradually whittled away by Arch-Meddler Croix.

Croix expertly manipulates the more-naive-than-most Akko, reinforcing Akko’s own assertion that Ursula’s an overprotective worrywart, while also planting a seed of doubt and suspicion regarding Ursula’s identity and intentions with Akko.

Croix also gives Akko a lift to Wagandea, hoping the pollen will take care of her latest rival to magical primacy. Years ago, she and Chariot went to the tree, with both expecting the Shiny Rod to choose her.

When it chose Chariot instead, it was a major hit to Croix, and her technologically-advanced career since has been one big attempt to overcome that rejection, as well as to stick it to Chariot.

When Ursula arrives to rescue Akko, Akko has fully gone to Croix’s side, and lets Croix “deal with” Ursula. Interestingly, Croix isn’t so evil that she wants Chariot to die in a fall, so she wakes Chariot up just in time so she can cushion her fall.

When Chariot shakes off her injuries (and Croix’s insistence she’s out of time) and goes after Akko once more, Croix doesn’t stop her; clearly she’d hoped for a cleaner operation, but since Chariot’s involved, she cuts her losses and withdraws.

Ursula catches Akko, who falls just as a cloud of magic-sapping pollen surrounds her menacingly. Overcome by shame for the things she said to Ursula, Akko takes it all back, apologizes, and says “thank you”, which she should have said a long time ago, but resonates more here, as it’s essentially the meaning of the sixth word, Lyonne, which Akko unlocks, leaving her at the same place Chariot was: with one word remaining.

Croix is unconcerned with her loss this week: she has been gathering all of the negative energy that all of the soccer fans of the world have been pouring into the popular, healing “Emotion Refresh” app she developed, and all that energy is going into a Gurren Lagann-style, giant mecha version of the Shiny Rod, presumably with the goal of releasing the Triskelion before Akko.

The social unrest being caused by football competition has been in the background for some time now, and it’s neat to see something that has a clear analog in the real world not only making an appearance in LWA, but serving as a key source of Croix’s power.

For all her megalomaniacal scheming, we definitely saw the affection for Chariot that still lingers in Croix’s heart. If Akko and Chariot are going to have a chance against her, part of their plan may involve tapping into that vestigial affection. But first thing’s first: Akko must get that seventh word.

Gakusen Toshi Asterisk – 14

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I saved this episode for last today because (a.) I wanted to check out the Spring shows premiering today and (b.) with a big battle last week I had a feeling this was going to be a rest episode, and so it was. But it’s because AW has thirteen episodes behind its belt that it can do quieter second episodes like this that focus not so much on the upcoming battle with the Li twins, but on characters and longer-term plotlines.

But man, they really give Flora the floor early on this week, and her sqeaky voice is, to be frank, really frikking annoying. Seriously, if an anime needs a kid voice, they should really just hire Kuno Misaki, who sounds much more like a genuine kid; Flora’s seiyu is just doing a baby voice, and it’s baaad.

That being said, I liked the running idea of Julis’ mischievous brother using Flora as his instrument to indirectly embarrass the princess. As for Flora’s photo of Julis washing her hair, that’s just her own treasured memory…just not one suitable for Ayato to see! All the girls’ knowing looks toward Ayato when Flora brought up “Julis’ rivals” was also funny.

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Just a couple episodes ago, Ayato and Julis were locked in near-mortal combat with the Urzaiz sisters, but they came away from the battle as friends, which is why I so enjoyed Ayato’s nighttime Skype session with Priscilla and Irene. Irene in particular is one very adorable tomboy when she thanks Ayato for saving her life.

Naturally, Ayato says it’s no biggie…but it is, which is why not only is Priscilla want to cook dinner for him again, but Irene is willing to give Ayato all the intelligence he wants regarding her school’s president, Dirk “The Tyrant” Eberwein, including his control over Le Wolfe’s intel org Grimalkin.

In the morning, Ayato’s roommate returns after a long absence (seriously, I barely remember the guy), gives Ayato some advice on the Taoist Li Twins, and even suggests an out-of-the-way cafe for Ayato and Julis to go on their date, though Julis is emphatic that it’s Flora, not her, who requested the get-together.

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Flora presumably has something important she has to ask Ayato, but first Julis spoils her with a big meal and an even bigger parfait, showing her softer, kid-loving side (she’d make a great mom!).

Of course, not only does Flora inadvertently organize an indirect kiss between Ayato and Julis (which only Julis blushes about) but her ‘important questions’ were provided by Julis’ brother, and start with how far she’s gone with Ayato so far.

The fun is broken up by Korona, yet another new doll-like character with a high voice (though less annoying than Flora’s).

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Korona is Dirk’s secretary, and she leads Ayato and Julis (who won’t let Ayato go alone…probably a good call) to a custom Rolls-Royce Phantom limo where Dirk is waiting for them. It comes a slight surprise that Ayato and Dirk have never met, even though the latter has been plotting against the former and his school for some time.

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Too many times an anime cheaps out on car models, but in this case, AW got themselves a bitchin’ CGI Roller, and they aren’t shy about showing it off from several angles both in the sunset and in a tunnel. During the mobile meeting, Dirk takes the measure of Ayato and Julis and agrees to answer a question Ayato has if he’ll return the favor.

With a deal in place, Ayato asks what Dirk knows about his sister Haruka. Dirk knows precious little, but far more than Ayato: the last time he saw Haruka, she was an entrant in a seedy underground fight club for super-rich patrons called the Eclipse Festa, organized by those disillusioned with the ‘kid-glove’ nature of the official festas, but shut down years ago.

Dirk watched Haruka lose her match, but believes she survived (matches ending in a death or two weren’t uncommon). This gives Ayato simultaneous relief and pause. His sister may still be alive, but what state is she in? Dirk has no more answers; only his question, which relates to Madiath Mesa, who Ayato knows as Chairman of the Festa Steering Committee.

With that, Dirk drops Ayato and Julis off, after which Korona mentions Flora to Dirk, who is intrigued, likely because she can be exploited as a liability to Julis if and when the need arises to have leverage over her. Always churning, the Tyrant’s mind.

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Nisekoi – 06

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We’ll be honest: right now Nisekoi is doing some things that always throw up warning signs for a long slog (not to mention piss us off to no end): relying too much on information omission, poor communication, and sheer coincidence to draw out the romantic tension. Like a wad of gum, it can only be stretched so thin before it separates, and with it our support of the show’s story. In other words: whatever Nisekoi is planning, it needs to get on with it already!

At the same time, Nisekoi is (so far) providing adequate cover for what would otherwise be construed as stalling: specifically, that both Chitoge and Kosaki both end up in positions in which they must suddenly readjust both their thinking and behavior. For Chitoge, it’s realizing Raku saved her from drowning, isn’t such a bad guy, and deserves thanks, not a beating. For Kosaki, it’s the realization that Raku and Chitoge aren’t really dating, which is terrific news for her, but she isn’t quite ready to act yet, and her reasons are understandable.

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Chitoge has been wrestling with the increasing probability Raku isn’t a moron bean sprout for some time now, but Kosaki obviously already knows she loves him and why. When Ruri runs off (in a rapid manner normally employed by Kosaki) and leaves her in an empty classroom with the one she loves, he’s even kind enough to unknowingly demonstrate it to her, which gives her the strength to start her confession.

Unfortunately, a baseball interrupts the end of her sentence. But while the baseball was an incredibly lazy, stupid way to torpedo her attempt, the fact of the matter is she’s making progress, and her knowledge Raku leaves her re-energized with hope. She’s not even that miffed about failing at that particular time. For one, it isn’t as if she dislikes the friendship she and Raku have now, and once she confesses, it will change, so she wants to enjoy it a little longer.

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And then there’s the fact that she can’t simply jump on top of Raku while he and Chitoge are the key to an uneasy peace between their families. Chitoge swears her to secrecy, warning that the city will be decimated if they fail to deliver (and as this is SHAFT series, it’s possible she’s not overstating matters). So Kosaki remains in a tough spot: she can neither confess too quickly nor afford to hold it off too long. Raku, meanwhile, is still agonizingly unaware of the possibility Kosaki likes him, despite overwhelming evidence to the contrary; nor has he confided in Kosaki that he’s not really dating.

Back to that fateful baseball: it’s use in nixing Kosaki’s confession makes a little more sense later in the episode. Chitoge finally finds a way to thank Raku to his face (in pretty good English) finds his locket on the ground; its chain having been busted by her multiple assaults on him that day. She has it fixed and delivers it to him, making them once again even in her eyes. On the car ride home she suddenly remembers she made a promise to someone too, years ago. Since we still haven’t seen Kosaki’s key unlock Raku’s locket, we’re still not 100% sure she was the girl he promised his heart too—now a glimmer of possibility exists it was actually Chitoge.

7_very_goodRating:7 (Very Good)

Stray Observations:

  • Chitoge’s failed three stages of apology were some great exercises in mutual cognitive dissonance.
  • Even though Kosaki’s confession wasn’t to be, it was beautifully staged, what with Raku mistaking her embarrassment for a fever and going into full Help Mode.
  • Ruri warns Kosaki if she wusses out again, they won’t be friends. We’re with Ruri. Damn the consequences; more than anything else, Raku needs to learn the truth.
  • In a dilapidated warehouse that wouldn’t be out of place in the world of the Monogatari Series, Claude assigns a mission to his shadowy apprentice: save the poor “Princess” Chitoge from the clutches from the “prick” Raku. He’s confident she can do it. We smell the next love interest.