Heavenly Delusion – 09 – All Hands Meeting

Asura taught Kona how to use his powers, and used their powers to heal other children when they were hurt. Kona loved Asura, even if he didn’t really know what love was, because the adults didn’t teach him. One day, Asura told Kona they “knew what they had to do”, and ended up taking their life, something Kona was helpless to prevent.

Asura was the last member of Kona’s group, leaving him alone with his drawings. That is, until a young Tokio takes it upon herself to reach out to Kona, not to say anything in particular (she doesn’t have any more experience with love and loss than he) but just to be there for him. That first little interaction became what Asura told Kona would be a special other kind of love. And it’s that special love that has the facility’s director on the move.

This is an episode that jumps between “Heaven” and the “Hell” of the present-day world where Kiruko and Maru are still looking for the doctor, Robin, and “Heaven”. Maru’s tooth has grown back, which isn’t surprising considering his other abilities. They’re both surprised by a sudden earthquake – the first in ages – and head to a collapsed building where they find a scavenger who might have information.

What is Mimihime always looking at? Looks like it’s something no one else can see: the “ghost” of Asura, still hanging up there. She and Shiro head to class, where they learn from the robo-teacher that Tokio won’t be around “for a while”; we see her being carted off in street clothes by Dr. Aoshima, who the director later names assistant director, angering a colleague.

While office politics unfold in a human experimentation facility in the past, Kiruko and Maru are told some very colorful stories by the scavenger, who calls himself Juuichi. One that stands out is about a school surrounded by a wall; a matriarchal society within abducts men and use them as breeding pigs and slaves.

While the school itself resembles “Heaven”, the fact is this guy is pumping Kiruko and Maru for cash, having covered up a sign with his van that they’d have recognized: the bird logo on the gun, and the box at the stoner colony. They’ve arrived at Takahara Academy.

Well, not exactly…it’s one of eighteen branches and two facilities on a Takahara flier. Kiruko learns that it’s kind of an orphanage where children go willingly to rest and relax, but also learn. They imagine such a place would be tough, but then remembers their sister and friends and figures they would have probably adapted if they had the same family-like structure, found or otherwise.

Kiruko and Maru are headed to one of the two facilities, hoping to learn more. Meanwhile, at the all-hands emergency meeting at one of those facilities, which I’m assuming is in the past, the Director announces to the shock off all that Tokio is pregnant. This despite them not teaching the children of the nursery about anything related to sex or even gender.

My theory that Tokio is Maru’s mother remains intact for another week, assuming that time difference is roughly equal to Maru’s current age. That said, Tokio being pregnant is regarded by the boss as a “crisis.” Are they caring for these kids, or keeping them isolated because they know they’re potentially dangerous? Curiouser and curiouser…

Rating: 4/5 Stars

Heavenly Delusion – 08 – Behind the Curtain

Dr. Usami takes Kiruko and Maru past a gauntlet of people who want to ask him about their prosthetics and leads them to the room with the curtain. Beyond that curtain is a young woman being kept alive by machines, calling to mind shades of Akira. Usami wants Maru to try to kill her the way he did the dormant Man-eaters in the garage.

Why not just disconnect her from the machines? Because they’re not just keeping her alive—they’re keeping her from becoming a monster. This is how Maru and Kiruko learn that all Man-eaters began as humans. Maru places his hand on her heavily bandaged body, and discovers that she has a core. He can do what Usami wishes and end her pain. But what does she want?

Thanks to a tablet, the young woman Hoshio is able to communicate her final wish: to see the sky. She’s been in that dark, depressing room for God knows how long clinging to both life and humanity. Kiruko and Maru agree that they won’t do as Usami asks unless Hoshio can see the sky, so Usami makes it happen.

The episode lingers on the logistics and careful maneuvering needed to move her and all her machines and cables just a few feet to the balcony where a impossibly gorgeous azure sky opens up above them. She stares up at that sky with her single blue eye, takes a few breaths, and then Maru lets her finally rest. It is without doubt one of the most beautiful and heartbreaking scenes I’ve ever seen, and not by accident: this episode was guest story boarded by a KyoAni veteran.

After she’s passed, Kiruko and Maru discover that Hoshio left a few final messages on the tablet, thanking Usami for letting her die as a human, thanking him for giving her his eye, and for everything, and telling him she loves him. Usami’s mask slips and he breaks down in big sobbing tears.

As all this was going on, Mizuhashi was apparently killed hitting her head when a rock was thrown by an Immortal Order member. Liviuman storms the facility, and IO’s staff and patients evacuate. Kiruko asks the IO folks about the photo of their Dr. Usami and Robin, and they recognize Robin, much to Kiruko’s delight. They could be inching closer to finding him.

But just as Kiruko and Maru are getting ready to escort Usami after he buries Hoshio, he shoots himself in the head on the roof of the facility, cradling Hoshio in his arms. He’s also holding the same button as the kids’ uniforms in Heaven. Just as he no longer saw any reason to continue Immortal Order with Hoshio gone, he no longer wanted to live in a world without her.

Faced with a dead Usami with a dead Hoshio in his arms, Maru begins to despair, saying that unlike Usami or Robin, his hands “only bring death”. Kiruko hurries to him and takes his hands in theirs, telling him that’s not true. Those hands, my God. Countless people have been saved by him killing Man-eaters. He’s saved Kiruko more than once as well. That matters.

While what happened to Hoshio and Usami is tragic, I’m glad the episode ends on a less somber note, with Kiruko and Maru closer than ever. No matter what happens in this world, if they can just stay together and keep surviving, you get the sense everything will be okay.

Only the episode doesn’t quite end with them. It ends with Mimihime’s dream of being in a dark and scary place, before suddenly being joined by someone who offers their hand (probably her crush Shiro).

When Tokio sees her grinning on the balcony, she asks what the dream was about that made her so happy, and Mimihime says she’s already forgotten. But even if the details of the dream are gone, the emotions remain.

Similarly, the precise nature and timeframe of the “Heaven” where Mimi and Tokio reside remains shrouded in mystery and intrigue, but what matters is that I desperately want to learn whatever answers Heavenly Delusion is willing to provide in its final five episodes.


Heavenly Delusion – 07 – In Your Head

We spend this week totally away Tokio’s side of this story, and since last week the gears turning in my head have be believing we’re dealing with two different timelines. If Tokio and Kona are Maru’s parents, then “Heaven” is a facility that was running just before the Collapse.

This also supports the theory that “Heaven’s” children were the experiments that led to the creation of the Man-Eaters/Hiruko, which caused the Collapse, and why Maru has the power to kill them. Mind you I’ve not read any of the source material, so we’ll see how right or wrong I am!

What’s great about Heavenly Delusion is that the theorizing is fun, but not vital. I’m fine to let mysteries to unravel in their own time, and in the meantime we have this beautiful story of the found family/rom-com duo of  Kiruko and Maru roving the gorgeously rendered ruins of civilization.

This week the pair put their two brain cells together to make a sign advertising their Hiruko-killin’ services, and the show pulls of a nifty bit of misdirection. We’re led for a moment to believe they’re about to be captured by Immortal Order, but they’re actually scooped up by a group zealously opposed to IO, called Liviuman.

Led by the charismatic Mizuhashi, it is an organization that opposes IO’s efforts to replace human bodies with machines and achieve immortality. Mizuhashi herself was the victim of a forced amputation of her leg, and while wandering the facility, encountered a human being chopped in pieces yet still somehow alive enough to beg her to kill them.

That’s some haunting, Mitty-ass shit right there, and sent shivers down my spine, because my mind immediately went to Dr. Usami, the doctor who put Haruki’s brain into his sister’s body (evidence of which is clear when Kiruko is bathing and her hair is back, revealing their head scar). He’s still up to his old tricks.

Kiruko is obviously naked when they’re bathing, and Maru notes that “she” seems “less coolheaded” than usual, like the Haruki in “her” is coming out. Kiruko hops out of the hot bath, stands before Maru in their birthday suit, and declares that they’ve “always” been Haruki in their head. Maru gets in the bath after them, chastened…but also turned on.

The next day, Kiruko and Maru agree to take care of the Hiruko rumored to be located on Immortal Order’s premises. Mizuhashi rallies Liviuman and stages a big loud protest as a diversion, allowing our duo to slip into a well-lit parking lot—a curiosity in a world with no power grid.

As for Hirukos, they find none that are moving, and instead find several small, white growths that appear to be dormant. Maru uses his touch to kill them for real, one after the other, until Kiruko locates the “big boss”. I agree with them that it’s almost more annoying that they aren’t moving, but it’s also far creepier.

When the boss’ face lights up, other Hirukos suddenly spring forth from inside the floor, walls, and ceiling, exhibiting an ability they haven’t seen before. The Kiru-Beam has no effect on the swarming monsters and runs out of juice. Kiruko is set upon by one, then two, then five of the little blighters.

Then, the unthinkable happens. One of the Hirukos grabs hold of her harm with its blade-filled mouth and bites down hard. Her arm is chomped off; then one of her feet. Maru is several yards away, similarly overwhelmed. Kiruko can’t do anything.

Fearing this might be the end, Kiruko calls out for Robin to help before passing out. But then they comes to…with Maru kissing them. He’s doing so to snap Kiruko out of what was apparently a hallucination; the boss Hiruko hypnotized her into thinking Hirukos were everywhere and making them shoot at nothing.

If Maru wasn’t there—and immune to the hypnosis—Kiruko might’ve been toast for real. That said, they still don’t let Maru sneak another kiss—one was enough, and they acknowledge it was necessary to snap them out of their trance. But goddamn was that nightmarish and stressful. I honestly didn’t know if Kiruko was actually being horribly maimed before our eyes.

With all the dormant Hiruko killed, Kiruko and Maru start to hear the approaching footsteps of fine black wingtips. A man in a well-fitting black suit, lavender tie, and eyepatch appears, holding a gun and inspecting the dead Hiruko. He then turns to the duo, and his gun clacks as he does.

That said, he doesn’t pull the gun on them. Instead, he asks them if they can kill something else for him. Kiruko says sure, if they can, and depending on what exactly he wants. She also mentions she’s looking for Dr. Usami, and the much younger man than she knew says that he’s Dr. Usami.

Clearly, the not-good-at-all doctor’s research on immortality has borne some fruiton on a personal level. We’ll have to wait until next week to learn the unspeakable but inevitable human cost, and if we’re actually dealing with a post-“Heaven” scenario in which Maru is the son of that facility’s residents.

Heavenly Delusion – 06 – The King of Hotels

The bad news? This episode ends with Kiruko and Maru arguably no closer to reaching “heaven” than last week. The good news? Everything else. Upon reaching the “100% clean water” area of the map, a girl named Totori points them to the source of said water.

They end up finding a dead man, another who is badly-mauled but still alive, and a monster. Kiruko lets the beast chase them out into the sunlight, where they fire the Kiru-Beam at a concrete support that falls on the monster. Only Maru isn’t able to kill it with his Maru-Touch like he has other Hiruko.

It turns out this isn’t a monster at all—just a big, hungry bear with no fur on its head. They manage to escape atop a concrete pylon, but Kiruko drops the battery to the Beam, and Maru has to scramble down to get it. Kiruko can’t get down so easily, as they don’t possess anything like Maru’s physical skills.

Kiruko promises to let Maru touch their boobs if he climbs down to kill the bear, and he leaps off the pylon immediately. Kiruko jumps soon afterward and ends up doing the deed, telling Maru they always knew the Beam would fire, as it was recharged with Maru’s “horny energy.”

From there, this episode goes directly to Horny Jail—or I should say Horny Hotel—without so much as passing “GO”. Maru wants to collect the debt by groping Kiruko, and Kiruko ends up making a girly sound that surprises them both, but also attracts the attention of Totori, the hotel manager.

Totori takes Maru to his separate room, where she then attempts to seduce him in exchange for cash or a solar light—whichever works for her. Horny as he is, Maru isn’t at all ready to go all the way with this girl, but when she places his hand on her breast, he “gets in” in the same way he does when using Maru-Touch on Hiruko.

We even see a pinkish-red “core” that is similar to the ones he’s crushed in Hiruko…and which was left behind when Tarao was cremated.  Unfortunately, both his phrasing and the position he’s in with a naked Totori on the bed cause quite a bit of misunderstanding.

Back at “Heaven”, Tokio is told there’s no sign of an illness; her nausea may have been caused by stress and fatigue, and she rests in the infirmary. While there, she has a dream with the ghost of Asura, who floats in the air, has an alien-like face, and asks Tokio what she’s good at.

Back at the hotel, Totori lets Maru off without any fuss, as she admits she came on to him. She also, completely unbidden, reveals the depths of her own horniness by declaring that by offering the cleanest, comfiest futons and having sex with the customers she likes, she intends to become the “King of Hotels”.

You have to admire the spirit, but the next morning Totori’s mood has changed completely, as the Boss, the maimed man Kiruko and Maru found, has passed away. Kiruko asks if Totori wants to join them on their journey, but she declines, so Maru tells her to instead become the King of Hotels she wants to be.

I don’t know if this is the last we see of Totori, or if Maru touching her boob indicated she was a kind of proto-Hiruko, but she was certainly a fun, complex, and compelling side character.

But saying goodbye to Totori does not end the horniness. While one of the adults confirms that Tokio’s footprint was on the wall in the creepy mutant baby nursery, Tokio slips out of the infirmary (she continues to not show up on surveillance video) to see Kona.

While previous instances suggested Tokio wasn’t a party to all the sexy shenanigans going around, here we see both she and Kona are ready to get down. As they disrobe, Kona admits he liked Asura, but assures Tokio it was different than his love for her.

Whether you’re an orphan in the care of a cute bodyguard or an orphan in a bizarre cloistered medical facility, there’s apparently no suppressing that basic human need for close, even intimate connection. The revelation that she and Kona are knocking boots lends some vital context to her vomiting last week, as it’s possible she’s already pregnant.

Skip and Loafer – 05 – Digging Deep

It’s Sports Day, and while Mitsumi believes it’s some kind of big dark secret that she sucks at sports, everyone is already aware. She needs a coach for her class’ volleyball match against the other classes, and picks Mika, who is adept at the sport.

Mika partially agrees because it means more time with Sousuke. The more time she spends with both him and Mitsumi, the more she realizes he’s a genuinely good person and not just putting on an act, or using Mitsumi in some way.

I love how Mitsumi so earnestly wants to get better, but her small town sensibility shows once again when she offers a bag full of fattening treats and sweets as thanks for coaching her. Mika refuses all but the healthiest item in the bag.

Mitsumi notes how dainty and girly Mika’s lunches are, blissfully unaware that Mika was once chubby and gains weight easily, so she can’t just eat whatever she wants, even if she wants to. It’s another example of the well-meaning Mitsumi inadvertently causing friction with Mika.

When they go to the gym to practice, there are third-year boys in there, even though it’s the first-years’ day to use the gym. Mika tells Mitsumi to ignore them, but Mika ends up getting bumped into by one of the hulking lads. Mitsumi puts on the bravest face she can (which is hilarious) and confronts them.

When they ignore Mitsumi saying it’s the first-year’s gym today, it makes Mika feel like she used to feel all the time when she was younger and heavier: ignored, looked over or through. Mika puts the two boys on her internal shit-list, but Mitsumi notes the name another third-year boy who tells the other boys to beat it.

Faced with a stunning beauty in Yuzuki on one side and a pure, straightforward person in Mitsumi leaves Mika feeling lost: why would anyone choose her, who is neither of those things? What is all the effort she puts into her appearance and outward personality for?

She asks Mitsumi why she chose her as her coach, she suspects it’s because Mitsumi is “getting back at her” for being nasty to her. But Mitsumi’s answer surprises her. She chose her because she wouldn’t sugarcoat things, and because it’s clear to her she worked her ass off to get as good as she is at volleyball.

This re-energizes Mika, and by now Yuzu and Makoto are also there, so she goes into full Drill Sergeant Mode to motivate everyone to play to win. Sousuke appears behind her, and she’s mortified he heard her shouting, bue she shouldn’t be. He’s probably delighted to have seen a different, more candid side of her.

On the day of the class matches, Yuzu gives Makoto a cute fishtail braid for her table tennis match, while Mika fixes Mitsumi’s hair with some pins. The volleyball team plays well and makes it to the knockout round. In between matches they have lunch and also check out the boys’ basketball match.

Mitsumi always knew that Sousuke was “hot” and popular with the girls, but didn’t quite appreciate the scale of that popularity until a day like this came about. He’s surrounded by fawning girls of all three years, to the point even someone as inexperienced in such situations as Mitsumi realizes she can’t just walk up to him and give him some of the pickled vegetables she made.

To do so would place several dozen targets on her back. So instead of approaching him, she leaves the gym. Sousuke, towering over his admirers, watches her go, and seems crestfallen. He’d rather she watched him and talked to him than all these randos!

The volleyball team makes it to the final, where they’re up against a particularly tough team featuring actual players from the volleyball team. Mitsumi thinks about how much of a bother she must’ve been to Sousuke on her first day…and yet he still reached out to be friends even after she became known as “the Puker”.

While the other team’s captain delivered a vicious serve that bruised her arm, Mitsumi snaps out of her thoughts long enough to bear down and successfully dig out the next sere, which Mika leaps for and spikes for a point. It’s not just a beautiful culmination of the training Mika instilled in Mitsumi, but an example of what can happen when two very different kinds of people cooperate.

The more talented team ends up beating them, but after resting with the team, Mitsumi decides to run to the basketball final by herself so she can cheer for Sousuke, something she wants to do more than she fears the potential consequences. As Mika watches her run off, she’s a little envious Mitsumi could make that choice.

But at this point, Mika is seeing Mitsumi less as a rival to be defeated or stepped over, but something like a friend she can support, and who can maybe support her with what she lacks. That lacking something is key: having watched Mitsumi with Sousuke, she believes that Mitsumi provides something that he lacks, and vice-versa.

That explains their effortless chemistry, while also hinting at the beginnings of love, not “just friends” vibes. Sousuke is much happier hearing Mitsumi cheer him on than anyone else. She’s special to him, and he to her. I can’t wait to see where that goes as the school year progresses.

Heavenly Delusion – 05 – Pride (In the Name of Love)

Back in the remnants of Tokyo, Maru plays old 8-bit arcade games while he and Kiruko ponder their next move. Maru is interrupted by some thugs who judge a book by it’s cover and try to bully him, but he fights back and kicks all eight of their asses, suffering only a chipped front tooth and a bruise on the cheek. Kiruko arrives to mop up, assuming the thugs started the fight—and they mostly did by picking on him—but there’s no doubt he escalated.

We learn that before Mikura took him in and taught him how to kill Hiruko, he lived in a home with a bunch of other kids, but that place was eventually shut down and the kids were split up among other places. Maru ended up in a roving gang—which explains why he can handle himself in a fight—until Mikura entered his life. Unlike Kiruko, he didn’t see Mikura as a woman so much as another person he had to listen to and obey. It’s in these scenes of his youth that his resemblance to Tokio is really made clear.

Deciding to keep Maru hidden while they goes on a shopping / gun-charging run downtown, Kiruko overhears the thugs still searching for Maru, and also mentioning a “Ministry of Reconstruction”, which they believe may just be an urban legend. They’re glad and even proud to hear “their Maru” is tough, but then wonders why—after all, when their mission is complete, they’ll be all alone again.

Kiruko is in that state of mind when they return to the room to find Maru missing, and immediately panics. Turns out he was next door jerking off to a porno mag, but he can tell how shook Kiruko is, and gives them a supportive hug. He also apologizes for being so dramatic about his past without considering that Kiruko’s was worse…at least in terms of what they lost.

Back in “Heaven”, despite the efforts of the children to keep Tarao in good spirits with a music and dance performance, the next morning the AI cheerfully reports that he has passed away. The children are allowed to participate in the memorial service.

Tokio is particularly wracked by the loss, and brings up the only other kid to die, Asura, with whom Kona was friends. Asura died of suicide, but the director blames their own research for causing her death. When we see Tokio vomiting into a toilet, it’s a bad sign. Is she now ill like Tarao, either just because, or somehow from her adventure with Kuku?

The paths of Kiruko/Maru and Tokio edge ever-so-slightly closer together when a man who was on the boat comes to Kiruko and Maru asks if he can hire them as bodyguards. He’s headed for a place called “Immortal Order” with a priceless sample of the Hiruko. But when he shows them the jar containing the sample, it has already rotted away to nothing.

Nevertheless, Kiruko and Maru are keen on going to this “Immortal Order”, which is in the same area on a map Kiruko purchased where there’s 100% clean water, suggesting it might be the “Heaven” Maru is seeking. Of course, it’s long since been established there’s nothing heavenly about “Heaven”, and the additional label “strange people” is also foreboding.

The researchers at “Heaven” don’t know what killed Tarao (who was immune to everything prior to taking ill), or whether it will happen to the other kids. And when they cremate Tarao’s body, a bizarre, creepy growth remains, untouched by the flames. The man from the boat mentioned transplanting parts of monsters into humans to give them powers and make them immortal.

Rating: 4/5 Stars

Skip and Loafer – 04 – Stop and Smell the Gyoza

Kanechika-senpai shows Mitsumi some episodes of a TV show Shima acted in when he was a kid, and gets her to agree to talk to Shima about joining the drama club. Kanechika notes that Mitsumi as an extreme pushover, but this is too important to go easy on her.

The thing is, saddling her with this task ends up distracting Mitsumi so completely that she utterly fails at every other task on what was to be a perfect day of school. She spaces out during a 15-minute quiz and ends up getting a volleyball to the face in P.E.

Shima spots her in the nurse’s office window and the two have a nice easy chat together, demonstrating once more how effortless their chemistry is. Mitsumi is able to talk about her “mission” to Shima, which lessens her mental load, and Shima is able to explain that acting isn’t his passion, it’s just something he did to make his mom happy.

He then steers their talk to Mitsumi, because he’s genuinely interested in her and her dreams. When she speaks about how underpopulated her home is and how she wanted to come to Tokyo to attack the problem at its core. When she laughs if off, he tells her she doesn’t need to, because it’s an admirable goal.

That said, Shima admits he’s not sure he’d be able to deal with all the hopes and expectations that come with such a lofty goal, all but admitting he believes Mitsumi is far more amazing than him. She goes on to say she wouldn’t be in Tokyo if it weren’t for her best friend Fumi.

When Mitsumi studied so hard for entrance exams she forgot to sleep or eat, Fumi was there to watch over her and make sure she actually did get some food in her belly. She also promised that pass or fail, they’d go out for gyoza again. Mitsumi tells Shima if he ever finds a new goal for himself, they’ll do the same and go out to eat, succeed or fail. They pinky promise, and Mitsumi’s pinky tingles even afterwards, as sign that it’s a real one.

In the second half, Mitsumi meets with Hanazono-sensei (her homeroom teacher upon whom she barfed on her first day) in the faculty lounge, worried about “losing control” of herself now that she’s in high school. Hanazono listens, but inside she’s thinking how big of a square this girl is. Her grades are excellent for someone who doesn’t go to cram school.

That said, if Mitsumi wants to know how she can develop more discipline, Hanazono points her in the direction of Takamine-senpai, the student council treasurer. Mitsumi is in awe of Takamine’s strict daily schedule and complete lack of wasted time and energy.

But like everyone on Skip & Loafer, Takamine is hardly a one-note character. To Mitsumi she may seem perfect; a badass CEO-type who is headed nowhere but up. But internally, Takamine is a surging ball of anxiety. Her intricately-detailed schedule book can be a millstone around her neck. One missed train or bus means an entire day of productivity is ruined.

It’s only when Takamine spends and afternoon with Mitsumi that Takamine begins to question whether she’s really doing things in a proper, balanced way. Mitsumi injects some much needed spaciness to Takamine’s day, such that when things go wrong or there’s a lapse in focus, it’s mitigated by something worthwhile, like a cute cat, or a gorgeous sunset.

Takamine probably often suffered from dreams in which she’s always chasing buses she’s late for, but the night after hanging out with Mitsumi, she meets a fuzzy black cat in her dream, and another bus arrives immediately, one that takes her up into the dazzling starry sky.

In addition to being particularly Ghibli-esque, it’s so lovely to see such a normally stressed out Takamine enjoying herself in her dream, embracing the “space”, i.e. spaceiness of taking the time to smell the roses or gaze at the stars.

Takamine’s dream, and Mitsumi’s example, inspire her to loosen her grip on her oppressive schedule and negelect to check her wristwatch every five minutes. When an ornery soccer club president presents his report to her, she accepts it with a warm smile that causes him to flee lest she see him blushing.

Takamine also makes sure to tell Mitsumi not to follow her example to the letter, but determine her own pace and style and way of doing things. That’s definitely something Shima wants her to do, since Mitsumi stayed up all night preparing her own oppressive schedule and has the eye bags and yawns to prove it.

She assures Shima that such condition is temporary and she’ll “get used to it”, but Takamine gives her permission not to force herself too hard. After all, days where a little time is wasted aren’t too bad in moderation.

Rating: 4/5 Stars

Skip and Loafer – 03 – Camp Salted Caramel

Mitsumi considers every turn along her walk to the student council office to be momentous, as she envisions herself as a venerable lion of politics appearing on her favorite news program in the future. It all starts here…only someone is already at the door, having had the same idea.

That someone is Kurume Makoto, a reserved and introverted classmate who is considering joining the council but doesn’t want to be a bother, and jumps twenty feet when Mitsumi sidles up to her. As far as Kurume knows, Mitsumi is the rumored “secret boss” of the school, public vomiting aside.

Kurume is even more bewildered to see Mitsumi being followed by the “flashy gal” Yuzuki and “himbo” Sousuke, both of whom seem to be chummy with the secret boss. All Kurume has is labels and feels rather indimidated by these personalities, but she harbors a lingering curiosity nonetheless.

Both Mitsumia and Kurume look set up for heartbreak when the council president informs them they don’t recruit members. However, Mitsumi’s dejected visage brightens when she learns she can join the Tsubame Society, the council’s support group for events and such.

She’s then bathed in the warm light of Takamine, one of the council treasurers, when she talks about how the added council works causes time constraints, but she apportions out her day by the minute and essentially game-ifies her days, and says it’s all worthwhile time spent.

Mitsumi is excited to join the Tsubame group, but isn’t sure if Kurume feels the same way. Mitsumi runs her down and gives her another start in the hall, and before Kurume knows it, she’s in a “Starmax” cafe with Mitsumi and Sousuke, having ordered the same goofy boba drink as Mitsumi.

Both Sousuke and Kurume experience vicarious joy in watching Mitsumi’s Starmax and boba debuts. Kurume also comments on how well Mitsumi and Sousuke get along despite being so different. Sousuke’s thoughtful answer surprises her, as he says it’s more about the little things, like when food tastes better with a person.

Kurume then joins Mitsumi and Sousuke in a commemorative selfie. She has to admit she would have never ordered such a weird drink but for Mitsumi, and that it actually does taste better when she’s drinking it with her and Sousuke. I love how Sousuke wordlessly gestures for Mitsumi to get Kurume’s contact info. They make such a great team!

Mitsumi again demonstrates how lucky she is to have a stylish aunt in Nao-chan, who doesn’t let her leave wearing all of her extra clothes and accessories. The reason she’s getting dolled up is that Kurume was bold enough to invite her to go see a movie that’s adapted from a book they’re reading in class.

Of course, since Mitsumi is a shining sun surrounded by planets of every shape and size, their two-girl movie trip becomes an eight-person group, which includes Mika, who is glad Mitsumi and Kurume are so plain, only for Yuzuki to show up and dazzle everyone with her effortless glamour.

Mika at least gets to sit next to Sousuke at the restaurant prior to the movie, but the more she looks at Yuzuki, the more self-conscious and depressed she gets. Sousuke, continuing to show he possesses a great deal of emotional intelligence by complimenting how stylish Mika is. Even then, Mika regards Sousuke as a mystery.

Yuzuki, meanwhile, tries to be friendly with Kurume, but more than once her attempts fail miserably when a flustered Kurume is unable to engage with her. After the restaurant, Yuzuki is upfront with her, saying if she doesn’t like “people like her” she doesn’t have to force herself to talk to her.

Mitsumi watches, senses something is amiss between the two, and blames herself for getting such a big group together without considering the potential for clashing personalities. As class leader she feels obligated to fix things, but isn’t sure how, and simply finds herself sitting between them.

That’s when she gets a taste of salted and caramel popcorn at the same time, and realizes that two distinct flavors can be combined to make a new, even better flavor. She didn’t know until now because she’d never tried the two simultaneously. That reminds Kurume how how it was that same adventurousness and vulnerability that not only got her to drink that weird Starmax drink, but become friends with Mitsumi.

So she sends texts to Yuzuki admitting she typically doesn’t like “people like her”, but wants to change that, and wants to get to know Yuzuki better. When Yuzuki looks over at Kurume, the latter straightens her glasses and looks straight ahead, but also blushes a bit. Both are clearly happy to have mended fences and excited to be friends.

After the movie, everyone goes their separate ways, but with new bonds forged, and existing bonds strengthened. Mitsumi proves herself to be someone that puts everyone at ease and enables new connections to be made and new instances of fun and happiness to be shared.

As she watches a stylishly-dressed and exceedingly handsome Sousuke glide along the streets with Shibuya as a backdrop, Mitsumi also realizes she will surely come to love this strange, loud, busy new place.

Skip to Loafer, then, is the quintessential Tuesday feel-good anime. Its characters that feel like real, imperfect people who are learning that they complement one another in surprising ways. It’s lovely and charming and heartwarming, and I’m glad it’s in my life.

Skip and Loafer – 02 – Hitting It Off

On the train to school, Mitsumi tells Nao-chan about self-intros, which explains her sleepless eyes. Nao-chan squishes her niece’s face and tells her to smile. She get the attention of other passengers, who notice her height, wrist and Adam’s apple.

Mitsumi’s aunt is a trans woman, but it’s clear that doesn’t matter in the slightest to Mitsumi. You get the feeling Nao-chan can feel the eyes of others—probably nothing new—but Mitsumi takes her hand and re-centers her attention where it belongs: on her adorable niece.

Mitsumi’s self-intro goes well until she tries to tell a joke about being a natural born leader, the reaction to which is colder than Wisconsin in February. Sousuke has her back, saying in his intro that he’d like to work for her one day, which gets the laughs she was going for. When the two are picked to be the class reps, the girls see the instant easy chemistry they have and wonder whether they might’ve made a huge mistake.

Among them is Egashira Mika, whom we saw only became friends with Mitsumi when she learned she and Sousuke were close. She takes Mitsumi aside and tells her not to take everything Sousuke tells her at face value. She explains that due to his looks he’s nice to everyone so it doesn’t cause any trouble. Mitsumi thanks Mika for the “advice” but wishes she never heard it, because it has her suddenly questioning what everyone is saying.

Mitsumi’s country upbringing can’t prepare her for the sheer chaos and din of after-school karaoke, but when she heads to the bathroom, she’s stopped by the cool beauty Murashige Yuzuki, who tells her Mika is using her to get to Shima, and if she wants to bounce, she’ll accompany her. When Mitsumi peeks into the booth, she sees Mika chatting and laughing with Sousuke.

This is all a lot more complicated and confusing than Mitsumi had hoped, and she hesitates going back in when she gets a call from her best friend Fumi, who may as well be a serene Buddha on that grassy beach. Despite Mitsumi saying otherwise, Fumi can tell Mitsumi is down, simply because they’ve known each other so long. She urges Mitsumi not to overthink things. After all, in Kindergarten Fumi thought Mitsumi was scary, but in time realized she was actually sweet.

Mitsumi gets back in the booth, heartily sings a childhood song everyone knows and is charmed by, and basically stops overanalyzing everyone. Before everyone splits, Yuzuki exchanges her contact info with Mitsumi, while Mika keeps chatting with Sousuke, not-so-subtly asking if he has a girlfriend. Sousuke shuts her down rather bluntly before joining Mitsumi on her walk home.

Mitsumi accidentally called him “Sou-chan” since he’s similar in name and appearance to her family dog. But the next morning Sousuke runs with it, calling her Mitsumi-chan where everyone can hear. Mitsumi is courted by all of the brainy clubs, culminating in the second-year president of the drama club personally inviting her to watch a play and giving her roses in hopes that she’ll join.

Mitsumi remains undecided about clubs all day, and asks Sousuke how he usually makes such choices. Looking a bit distant and distracted ever since the drama club prez showed up, he tells her that he tries to consider that anything he’s undecided on was “never that important”.

For what it’s worth, he’s very much not undecided on wanting to be friends with Mitsumi, but when the drama club prez flags him down and tells him he recognizes him as “Kanade-kun” from television, Sousuke is even more blunt with him as he was with Mika: he does not want to talk about it.

Mitsumi accepts that she can’t tell what anyone is thinking (only Fumi can), but she’ll try harder to understand her complicated new friends little by little. She is also perceptive enough to know that while Sousuke is so bright and cheerful and kind to everyone, he also seems to be masking a sadness.

That night, Mitsumi tells Nao-chan that she’s decided to join the student council. In addition to helping prepare her for a future as a government official and leader, it will allow her the opportunity to interact with a wide variety of her peers, which helps her overall mission to understand others better. Going from a class of eight to a school of hundreds is a hell of a change, but Mitsumi is determined to handle it in stride.

Rating: 4/5 Stars

Heavenly Delusion – 02 – Something Else Is Going to Fall

Last week we learned the youthful residents of “Heaven” were cut off from outside world. This week we learn they’re also horny as all get-out. Girls are making out, Mimihime is sending nude photos to Shiro, and Tokio likes Mimihime and yearns for Kona’s drawings, while she’s oblivious to her friend liking her.

Later, one of the more adventurous of them uses maintenance robots to climb up a column, but when they shut down he falls from a great height onto his back and is somehow completely fine. Between that and how nimble Kuku is, these kids are special in more ways than one. In the meantime, Tokio can’t stop thinking about the Outside.

On that Outside, Hiruko wakes up from her drugged slumber and rouses Maru; there’s a monster out there. The inn manager tells them to keep away but they believe they can take this guy. We then learn the manager doesn’t want them to kill the monster because she believes it merged with her son Yuto when it attacked him, and won’t hurt her.

This is promptly proven wrong when the monster slices her to bits right in front of Hiruko and Maru, and with the Kiru-Beam already out of power, Maru uses his special ability to grasp the monster’s Nokker-like core and pop it, causing instant death. This whole scene was gorgeously, starkly lit and animated, and the monster with its razor whips was scary as hell.

The next morning the two continue their journey to “Tomato Heaven”. Maru demonstrates he’s a good boy when he hesitates to retake the batteries they gave the now-dead manager. He’s rewarded with a hair-muss by Kiruko, which makes him blush. They then lower a raft kept afloat by jerrycans down a great cliff that leads to their destination. Neither of them know if there are sharks or crocs in the water, so they row as quickly as possible to land.

We learn that there’s someone else out there someone with Maru’s face, to whom he must administer a drug in order to presumably heal him of something. In a flashback, we learn that a dying young woman named Mikura was the one to sent Kiruko and Maru on their journey to the place called “Heaven”, and the Kiru-Beam to protect him.

He believes his look-alike will be in “Heaven”. Signs outside the “Tomato Heaven” farm compound warn that trespassers will be “killed mercilessly”, but when some farmers spot the girl and boy they’re a lot friendlier, and take them to their leader, Kusakabe. He leads a commune and a good portion of their crops is cannabis.

That night while having dinner, Kiruko and Maru learn that the farmers entertain themselves by getting high each night. Kiruko determines that the look-alike isn’t there becaue no one recognized Maru, but ironically someone recognizes her. He even has a photo of the person he calls Takehaya Kiriko, an electro-kart racer believed to have lost it after killing their brother in a race.

When Maru sees the photo, he’s amazed by the similarity to Kiruko, who insists she’s not that person. They then spot the same three-footed bird logo on a box that is on the Kiru-Beam, but the stoner farmers aren’t really sure where the box came from. The bottom line is, this isn’t the Heaven they’re looking for.

That night, Kiruko and Maru take a boat back to Tokyo (a service I’m surprised exists in such a dog-eat-dog world), and Maru admits he doesn’t care about finding Heaven anymore. He just wants to live on the farm with Kiruko, to whom he confesses and then suddenly leans in to try to kiss her.

Not only is Kiruko not interested in farming and getting high for a living, but she also politely rejects Maru’s advance and confession. Then she tells him something neither he nor I expected: while she has a woman’s body, her mind is that of a man. Now we know why she tried to kiss herself in the mirror last week. Could it be Kiruko really is Takehaya Kiriko, or her brother?

The two end this episode having hit a dead end with the farm and no closer to the Heaven of Tokio, Mimihime, et al. But regardless of whether and when they do reach that place, I’m enjoying the 86-style split narratives in wildly different settings, where despite those differences teenage hormones are running amok.

Skip and Loafer – 01 (First Impressions) – Entrance Ceremony

Iwakura Mitsumi (Kurosawa Tomoyo) is the pride and joy of the tiny rural seaside village from whence she comes; a whale in a kiddy pool. In Tokyo, where she’ll be attending high school, she’s a guppy in a lake, and the lake is full of sharks. But Mitsumi can’t know that until she actually experiences the big city for the first time.

After a gorgeous transition from the village to Tokyo that flips the camera up into a sky that joins them, she is bursting with confidence as she prepares to head to the school’s entrance ceremony. But then our POV switches to a blonde young man who is late for that ceremony…and he finds her stuck to a wall.

But while all the tunnels and halls and signs made her lost and the crowds made her nauseous (since she’s just never been around so many people before), this country bumpkin is blessed with terrific fortune, as she comes upon a gorgeous prince in shining armor—which is the same sharp blue uniform she’s wearing.

He’ll lead her to school, but he’s in no hurry himself. When he tells her it’s “just an entrance ceremony”, Mitsumi snaps at him, saying that’s something only he can say. But she immediately regrets that, and wonders if Tokyo brought out her “true colors” as a bad person. Of course that’s not the case, it’s just that she’s not used to the pace and the sheer volume of the city.

When she and the lad make a run for the school from the station those impostor syndrome thoughts begin to amass, until she regains her nerve, gets up, slips off her loafers and socks, and runs the rest of the way barefoot. The blonde guy, enchanted by Mitsumi’s moxie, finds his pace quickening, to catch up to her.

Mitsumi makes it just on time, thanks to the principal giving a longer-than-scheduled speech. There’s that fortune again! Then the blonde guy receives a shock: this absolute chaotic mess of a girl is actually top of their class, and even though she leaves her written speech in her luggage, she still delivers a perfect and stirring address…from memory.

It’s a stunning scene when she snaps into focus and makes a strong first impression in front of the entire school. Thanks to tradition, they can’t see her hauntingly gaunt face, only the principal can, and he’s disturbed by her lack of blinking. Mitsumi is at the end of her rope, and ends up hurling onto her homeroom teacher’s favorite blouse and pricey suit…in front of the whole school.

Rising from potentially the very top of her class in social stature to the bottom and gaining the nickname “the Puker” on the first day, is enough of a roller coaster to make anyone nauseous. But Mitsumi isn’t one to be discouraged by some early errors, forced or unforced.

She’s determined to have a perfect high school life, so step one is to make friends. When the girl at the desk behind her blows her off when she introduces herself, Mitsumi is once again discouraged, but then the blonde guy, who is in her class and is named Shima Sousuke, walks right up to her desk, says they should be friends, and exchanges contact info.

Immediately, that same girl who blew her off decides she wants to be Mitsumi’s friend after all. What’s funny is that this sudden change of heart, isn’t played as comically opportunistic as I thought, but instead played fairly straight. I’m going to give Egashira Mika a pass for being initially a bit treacherous to Mitsumi. After all, it’s the first day of school!

Mitsumi finishes her day by unpacking and speaking to her best friend back home, assuring her that her first day of school in Tokyo went absolutely swimmingly. She doesn’t bother her friend with any details of the myriad mishaps that befell her, and there’s a good reason for that: talking to her friend is talking to her family and the village. She doesn’t want to worry them.

They have no reason to worry. Mitsumi may still be trying to keep up with the blistering speed of city life, but she’s ambitious, dogged, and perseverant, and even if she never fully figures it all out, the key is she’ll have friends who’ll help her, just as she’ll help them with what she’s good at.

That brings us to Shima. He’s still in touch with what are presumably his friends from middle school who all ended up at different high schools. Or maybe just childhood friends? I like how their relationship isn’t overly explained, it’s clear this is where Shima feels most himself and comfortable.

But he sheepishly reports that he’s made a friend, and there’s something about her that made him run after her. This shocks his friends, who know how lazy he is, but when they ask if it’s a girl, he makes a quick exit. He’s not yet ready to share all of what he’s feeling right now, he wants to savor it for himself.

With self-introductions tomorrow, Mitsumi wants to repair the reputation she built with her entrance address.  I love how the Tokyo night lights are so eerily bright to her. It’s perhaps those lights lurking just behind her blinds that keep her awake long enough that her brain kicks into speechwriting gear.

She doesn’t just write one; but several, depending on the “mood of the class.” She does this instead of, ya know, sleeping. And so when she arrives at the breakfast table she’s positively ghoulish from the all-nighter. No matter. I get the feeling she’s going to do great when it matters.

As she did with Kumiko in Euphonium and Phos in Land of the Lustrous, Kurosawa Tomoyo absolutely kills it as the voice of Mitsumi. She has such a unique-sounding yet natural voice, and a lot of range to boot. Kudos also to P.A. Works for a stunningly gorgeous presentation that looked and felt cinematic more often than not.

I won’t lie—there are times when this show gets almost too sweet and sugary. But as a student of both Disney and Studio Ghibli I’m no stranger to that. There’s the same sweet charm of Whisper of the Heart here, mixed with shades of warmth with the sharper bite of the classic Kare Kano. This is a no-doubter for spring.

Heavenly Delusion – 01 (First Impressions) – The Outside Beyond

Heavenly Delusion doesn’t start with any stern narration of the current political or ecological state of this world. In fact, it hardly has any infodumps at all. The exposition is flawlessly weaved into dialogue that feels natural and in rhythm with the story. No, we’re tossed right into the thick of things, at a strange white facility for kids who may have latent (or yet to awaken) skills, taught by robots and embracing various hobbies.

It is safe, comfortable, and more than a little sterile. But one girl Mimihime seems to be attuned to something beyond, and her friend Tokio’s tablet briefly glitches with the question “Do you want to go outside of the outside?” I couldn’t help but think of The Promised Neverland with this setting, and The Matrix’s invitation to both Neo and the viewer to Go Down the Rabbit Hole.

The other side of this world’s coin is the majority of the world, which seems to be in a state of post-apocalypse, recent enough that adults chide children for having never lived in the “before.” Kikuru (Senbongi Sayaka, fresh off what should be an award-winning performance as Princess Anisphia) is a strong, capable young woman serving as a bodyguard for Maru, a kid who wouldn’t look out of place in the facility.

Just watching Kukuru and Maru trudge through the twisted, rusty remains of civilization is a delight…until of course they find the corpses of a couple in their bed. But Production I.G. gives the entire episode the quality and style of animation you’d normally see in high-tier feature films. It is a gorgeous show, and the direction, lighting, and camerawork all excels.

Kikuru and Maru make an immediately rootable pair, especially when three old farts are hoping to take them to “heaven”. Fortunately, they have quite a trump card in the “Kiku-Beam”, as Kikuru calls it. While it looks like a kid’s toy gun, the thing fires a lethal, white-hot particle beam that melts anything in its path. Maru also shows of some really slick combat moves.

Thankfully, things don’t get out of hand, and the would-be bandits/rapists take Kikuru and Maru to their camp peacefully. Kikuru is even able to trick them into letting her charge the battery for her laser gun. There’s a sense that as desperate and horrible as conditions are for people, there’s still an unwritten code that most humans follow. That said, Kukuru is tough as nails, and implies there are far worse humans out there they need to watch out for.

Kikuru is looking for two people: someone named Inazaku Robin, and an old man whose name she doesn’t say. But she’s also looking for a place she knows only as “Heaven.” Heaven is different for everyone, both spiritually and literally, but there’s definitely a heavenly vibe to the facility where those school kids live. Tokio asks the director (who is quick to offer sleeping drugs) if there really is an Outside. The director doesn’t lie, and says there is indeed.

On their way to the next place that could be Heaven, Kiruko and Maru end up finding a habited and functioning inn; something that would have been ubiquitous in the before times but is clearly a lavish luxury today. Its keeper catches Kiruko trying to kiss her reflection; we also see scars covering her body, providing visual bonafides of her badass-ness, past trauma…or both.

When Kiruko spots a gun bag on the wall, the innkeeper says it’s for hunting monsters, and then starts acting very suspicious when Kiruko talks about monsters. There’s a wonderful sense of tension and dread in these moments, otherwise filmed in an idyllic household scene.

Kiruko and Maru are given a little more depth to their whole deal with the innkeeper teases them about the dangers of incest. Kiruko (who is ~20) assures her that Maru (~16) is nothing but her mission. This seems to anger Maru as he pushes his futon further away than she set it up that night, then instantly falls asleep.

While they were both exhausted enough from their travels to plausibly pass the ef out as soon as their heads hit the pillow, part of me wonders (dreads, really) if they were drugged so that the gun-toting innkeeper can appease the giant winged eldritch monster with their meat.

However this plays out, it’s a hell of a stinger for the next episode. The director of “Heaven” isn’t wrong about the outside being a kind of hell by comparison. But it’s also a place of freedom, where that facility looks like a bastion of control and potential for abuse. It seems inevitable for the heaven and hell of this world to bleed into one another before long.

Lycoris Recoil – 05 – Heart of Steel

LycoReco’s next mission seems almost as innocuous as Chisato and Takina’s day off of shopping: serving as a Tokyo tour guides for Mr. Matsushita, a man with advanced ALS who wants to see the sights of his homeland one last time. The reason he’s hiring two Lycoris is that by returning to Japan he makes himself a target to the same assassin who killed his wife and daughter two years ago.

Chisato lovingly hand-crafts the best darn tour itinerary possible, only to realize once the client arrives that he’ll need it in digital format; thankfully they have Kurumi to digitize it. When he asks if Chisato thinks it’s strange that machines are keeping him alive, she says not at all, and casually drops perhaps the biggest bombshell yet about herself: she has a completely artificial heart.

While Chisato and Takina take Matsushita on a water bus to avoid Sumida Ward traffic and Chisato flashes her elite tour guide skills, Detective Abe is down in the ruins of the train station with his young partner, finding a whole mess of bullet holes evidencing a terrorist attack. The thing is, they’re not supposed to be there, and when they see flashlights they slip away.

That Chisato spots Abe and his partner on the street and greets them is one of those small-world-in-a-big-city moments that really brings the setting to life. Tokyo is as much a character this week anyone else, with its bustling streets and historic landmarks.

While taking a breather back on the water bus, Takina wants follow-up on Chisato’s claim of an artificial heart. Chisato adds it works an absolute treat despite her not having a heartbeat. Takina can’t resist trying to feel. Meanwhile, the assassin Matsushida was fearing shows up.

This whole time Kurumi has eyes on the girls and client via her trusty drone, while Mizuki is on the ground shadowing the assassin once he arrives. His nickname is “Silent Jin” and he’s a no-nonsense consummate professional Mika happened to once work with. It’s really fun watching LycoReco coordinate their efforts…until their whole system gets blown up.

Jin immediately sets about demonstrating what a badass professional he is by shooting down Kurumi’s drone and finding and neutralizing Mizuki (though not before she slaps a transmitter on his coat). Kurumi does the most physical activity she’s probably done in days by running to the window of the café and tossing out a spare drone.

But that drone will take time to get where she needs it to be, and with Mizuki temporarily off the board (she later turns up alive) Chisato and Takina are on their own. Takina acts as a lure for Jin, leading him away from Matsushita, but Matsushita then goes off on his own.

Chisato catches up to him in front of Tokyo Station, and he tells her he’s realized from their behavior that the assassin who killed his family is nearby, and intends to kill him. There’s a resignation in the way he seems to be intentionally making himself a prime target for Jin, who has a high vantage point in some scaffolding.

Takina manages to cause Jin’s killing shot to miss and then bum rushes him, and the two fall through the scaffolding. Takina fortunately lands on some soft bags of building material, but it’s another demonstration of how she acts before thinking long-term (which has its pros and cons).

An out-of-breath Mizuki finally arrives (she really had a workout this week), and Chisato leaves Matsushita in her care, worried that Takina could be in trouble. Sure enough, Takina gets grazed in the leg and her mobility is severely curtailed, leaving her a sitting duck for Jin.

Well, Chisato isn’t about to let her partner get killed, so she springs into action, firing rounds that create puffs of colored sand to blind Jin (a modern take on an ancient ninja blinding tactic metsubushi) then gets right up in Jin’s business and unloads a clip of concussive rounds that put him down without ending his life.

When Matsushita sees Jin is still alive, he insists Chisato kill him, reminding her of the mission she carries as an Alan Child. Because Chisato is Chisato, she respectfully declines to kill Jin, saying she only wants to help others, like the person who gave her her Alan pendant. With that, all of Matsushita’s machines shut down, and we get the biggest twist of the episode: Matsushita didn’t exist.

It turns out a medical patient that was missing from a facility was used as a “fake” Matsushita by a third party, who saw through the goggles on the man’s eyes, remote controled his wheelchair, and spoke via the internet. Why this person went through so much trouble to specifically try to make Chisato kill Jin, we don’t know. We only know that a woman paid Jin cash to kill “Matsushita” and he didn’t ask any more questions.

If last week’s Lycoris massacre wasn’t foreboding enough, the penultimate scene in this episode features Mashima’s grey overall-wearing associates luring the attention of a Lycoris so he can run her down with his car, and then they empty their clips into her for good measure. All of these guys have a serious hatred of the Lycoris, and they’re surely not done. Someone will have to stop them, and lethal force may be necessary.

But at least for a little while longer (probably too short a while), Chisato and Takina don’t have to worry about that. Unaware of the Lycrois killings, Chisato is more worried about whether being called an amazing tour guide was just a lie. Takina assures her that she wasn’t, and whoever was controlling that poor old man was genuine in their praise.

Then, with no one else around, Takina sees Chisato is open and lays her head upon her chest so she can hear—or rather not hear—her lack of a heartbeat. It is a beautifully animated (no surprise for this show) and incredibly heartwarming gesture that shows just how close these two have become. Unfortunately, this comes just in time for the shit to hit the fan courtesy of Mashima.

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