KonoSuba: An Explosion on This Wonderful World! – 03 – Signs Point to Maybe

For an academy formally known as the “Red Prison”, it sure is laid back! For the second episode in a row there are no real classes; the adults are all out hunting monsters, so it’s free study time at the library. Yunyun is super excited to make two new friends in Funifura and Dodonko, who even do her hair! But when a spider taunts Megumin, she leaps on Yunyun, steals a hair tie to sling at the haughty arachnid.

The vibes are ruined for good when village NEET Bukkorori teleports in—an impressive display of magic by a deeply unimpressive man. He notes how he used to check out the same books as Soketto back in the day, and one of the three locations he can teleport to is the front of her house. The students are so disgusted that they bury him with books, to which I say: What the heck did the books do to deserve such shabby treatment?!

Inexplicably, both Megumin and Yunyun allow themselves to be roped into Bukkorori’s pathetic attempt to court Soketto, first by watching her sweep her front yard from a tree, then becoming invisible and sneaking up on her while she’s training in the forest. For her part, Soketto regards Bukkorori’s behavior as a sign that he hates her. When a pack of “One-Punch Bears” arrives, he uses a flashy Inferno spell to dispatch them in one fell swoop. Unfortunately, Soketto ends up caught up in the flames, which is … suboptimal.

When Soketto hears that Bukkorori wanted a reading (she’s a fortune teller) she decides to give him a freebie, since she technically saved her life (she’s still alive; the bears are not). He asks about who his future romantic partner might be, and she fires up her crystal ball…only no one appears. She apologizes for the somber result and says her fortunes aren’t always accurate. Left unsaid is that there actually was someone in the ball … Soketto’s own reflection.

While he’s problematic on a number of levels, Soketto still considers him “interesting” to the point where she might not immediately turn him down were he to express the desire to grab a cup of chuunibyou coffee some time … but I seriously doubt he’ll ever do any such thing. For one thing, NEETs can’t afford fancy coffee!

During another free study period, Yunyun and Megumin chat about her own romantic futures. Yunyun wants a quiet boring guy who listens; Megumin expects she’ll be too busy exploding things but won’t rule out falling for a peerless hero in a future adventuring party. When the students are ordered to go home in pairs due to monster sightings, Yunyun starts to ask Megumin, but Dodonko and Funifura invite her instead.

Megumin starts walking home on her own, but Yunyun chases after her. She may be Megumin’s self-appointed rival, but she still wants to walk home with her and get something to eat on the way. For that reason, Yunyun will surely embrace the value of truces, during which she can set aside their “rivalry” and revel in their friendship.

Demon Slayer: Kimetsu no Yaiba – Swordsmith Village Arc – 02 – The Boy Who Had No Tact

When a young swordsmith’s apprentice is seemingly being bullied by Tokitou Muichirou, Tanjirou intervenes. Unfortunately, while Tokitou is younger and of much slighter build than Tanjirou, he’s also a damn Hashira, so he’s going to get what he wants to get.

What Tanjirou can’t abide is that Tokitou is so tactless and insulting in his explanation of wanting what the boy won’t relinquish: the key that starts a 300-year-old, six-armed mechanical doll used for combat training called Yoriichi Type Zero.

Tokitou interrupts Tanjirou’s righteous speech by knocking him out, then takes the key and starts training with the doll. When Tanjirou mentions that the doll resembles someone from his dream, Tokitou’s equally annoying crow tells him that’s preposterous, but the apprentice boy tells him it could be an instance of an inherited memory.

The boy can’t bear to watch the mechanical doll break down, since his parents have passed away and he doesn’t possess the skills to fix it. He runs off to sulk in a tree, but Tanjirou uses his nose to find him, and gives him a stirring, motivational speech that lifts the boy, named Kotetsu, out of his funk.

When Tokitou is done with the doll, he’s ripped one of the six arms off since it cracked his own sword. They’re able to start the doll back up, and Kotetsu resolves to train Tanjirou to the point he can give Tokitou a piece of his mind (even if perrential good boy Tanjirou objects to that motivation).

Kotetsu proves a harsh taskmaster, withholding food and even water from Tanjirou unless he’s able to score a strike on the doll. Considering a Hashira considered it a useful training doll, it makes sense that Tanjirou has trouble with it, and Kotetsu keeps the difficulty level uncomfortably high.

This ends up paying off, as Tanjirou discovers that he can smell the moves the doll is about to make before he can sense the Opening Thread (his usual manner of predicting moves). This, combined with Kotetsu letting him drink and eat, thus restoring his stamina, leads to Tanjirou finally being able to defeat the Type Zero.

When he does, its head crumbles into shards, revealing a 300-year old Nichirin sword—perhaps the very blade that once belonged to the ancestor from his dream. While Tokitou comes off as a big old jerk compared to the affable Mitsuri, his sour introduction is tempered by Tanjirou’s fast friendship with the more pleasant (but still tough) Kotetsu.

Rating: 4/5 Stars

KonoSuba: An Explosion on This Wonderful World! – 02 – Augmentation Surge

After picking out a new dagger for Yunyun and failing to get her to see how quickly she can stab between her fingers, Megumin returns home to find that the slightly feral Konekko has caught a black cat “for dinner.” Yes, the origin story of Chomusuke is she rescued her from a little sister who wanted to eat her.

The still-unnamed black cat, whom Megumin assigns as her familiar, is an instant hit with her classmates, pretty much making her super-popular by extension. When the teach denies her a familiar (after all, she can’t even use magic yet), Megumin makes up a colorful enough chuunibyou story that he lets her keep the cat in class after all.

But today’s class is special: the teacher asks the students to meet him out in the woods, where they’ll choose from a selection of very large (but also oddly light) weapons and level up quickly in a traditional Crimson Demon “Augmentation Surge”. Megumin is the first to try to slay a weak-looking lizard already encased in ice, but it ends up being a tougher customer that she initially thought. No matter; she ends up the victor in the end.

When a much larger monster appears in the form of a vicious gargoyle, the students freak out and make a run for it. The gargoyle is blasted by one Bukkorori, son of the village cobbler who dug a pitfall in order to ensnare Soketto, the fairest of the Crimson Demons. He creeps out the girls so much they refuse to help him get out of the hole he dug.

More gargoyles come to life and attack the town, which is utterly destroyed not by them, but the completely over-the-top attacks of their teacher and headmaster, along with four local businesspeople. But as powerful as their magic is, Megumin just isn’t quite as impressed as she was by the Explosion user she met years ago.

In a world where Crimson Demons can completely level their village and rebuild it back good as new in one day, how radical is she really for wanting to master Explosion magic? I’d say not really! Rather, she’s a quintessential Crimson Demon, risking it all to be as big, bad, and inspiring as possible. Still, she has a long way to go.

Don’t Toy with Me, Miss Nagatoro 2nd Attack – 10 – The New Challenger and the Demon Love Nest

Naoto’s third year has arrived, but it’s business as usual at the art club: his first oil painting of the year is of Nagatoro in her competition swimsuit, followed by him massaging her lower back. She then announces she’s joining the judo club, reiterating that her goal is to beat Orihara so he’ll give him a reward kiss, and she wasn’t messing around.

Nagatoro is pressing Naoto on whether he wants to kiss her or not (a simple question, but obviously difficult for someone like him to answer) when the club door slides open to reveal a mini-Sana. Turns out it’s Sana’s cousin and Naoto’s former middle school kohai, Sunomiya Hana. Her first question is regarding the talk of kissing she overheard in the hall: are Naoto and Nagatoro dating?

Both parties deny it, but Hana is clearly dubious. She also sees how Nagatoro has modeled in a swimsuit, and announces her willingness to be a nude model for Senpai (like her cousin, she’s an unabashed exhibitionist). When Gamou shows up to tell her they need to get to judo club, Hayase suddenly finds herself in a spot: she’s not willing to declare Naoto her boyfriend, but she’s extremely anxious about leaving him with the likes of Hana.

That anxiety distracts her in her first practice, and she gets tossed around as a result, with a lot of room for improvement. Orihara can tell she’s distracted, and Gamou takes the opportunity to mess with Hayacchi by laying out the unvarnished truth: she’s worried she might lose her boyfriend to a “new challenger”. I love how excited this makes Orihara, and that Nagatoro is getting a taste of her own medicine.

As for Hana, she doesn’t seem quick to steal Naoto away; in fact, she can tell just like Sana did that his art has actually become bolder and more colorful since Nagatoro-senpai started modeling for him. She can also see the love inherent in the paintings, and declares that Naoto must grab that love with both fists. If Nagatoro isn’t going to be around the club as much due to judo, well then, he’s just going to have to go on a date.

Between Gamou (and the other gals), Orihara, and Hana, I believe our two lovebirds have all the supporting crew they need to nudge them a few steps closer to the realization that they’ve long since ceased fooling anyone that they’re not an item, and that the time may soon come when they’ll stop fooling themselves as well. A date or two might just do the trick.

Rating: 4/5 Stars

Tomo-chan Is a Girl! – 09 – Carolization

Kousuke describes himself as a sullen boy in his earlier years, preferring books to the tedium of other people. He was miffed when his mother described Carol as an angel, but then he got his first look at her, and became a believer. There she was, an real-life angel in the flesh. And that was it. He was in love.

After the warehouse incident, Kousuke wants to get stronger. He goes to the right place for that: the Aizawa Dojo. But he soon learns just how out of his league he is, whether it’s Tomo, her dad, or Jun. He also doesn’t realize how much it irks Jun when he talks about wanting Tomo to “acknowledge” him. Of course, Kousuke isn’t after Tomo that way.

Like Jun, Carol gets the wrong idea about Kousuke training at Tomo’s house (and she doesn’t even hear that he was in her bed when Jun knocked him out!). Carol is pissed, and decides to get back at Tomo by claiming Jun for a day, then telling Misuzu in passing that she shouldn’t think she’ll “get her way”. Misuzu always knew Carol concealed an edge, but even she’s taken aback to see that edge fully bared.

Carol comes right out and tells Jun the score: she was mean to Misuzu earlier, and by being with him she’s being mean to Tomo, but right now she just wants to blow off some steam. Jun assures her that Tomo won’t be quick to give up on a friend just because they were mean to her. Then Jun and Carol somehow end up in his room, and she kisses him and jumps on top of him.

She doesn’t take things any further, but when Carol asks him why he’s so scared of women, and how if that doesn’t change he might have problems with Tomo down the road. Partly because he’s terrified of Carol and partly because he wants to prove her wrong, Jun runs next door and gives Tomo a big hug. Carol follows her to apologize to both. She’s let off her steam, and now she’s headed home.

The next day Carol tells Kousuke she hung out with Jun, including in his bedroom, and is treated to a “really weird face”. She reports this to Misuzu, who wonders if Kousuke has ever seen Carol being serious. When she meets with him, she and we get the gist of Kousuke’s deal. He loves Carol, but the thought of getting closer to her terrifies him, because he believes he’s weak, and she’s still so dazzling to him it’s hard to even look at her.

Misuzu rightly deduces that Kousuke needs to see Carol’s vulnerable side, in order to shatter his longstanding ideal of her as an untouchable goddess. But to do so, Misuzu has to be cruel. She tells Carol a lie; that Kousuke doesn’t like her that way, and that when she told him about Jun, it was more like a father giving away her bride than jealousy. Misuzu fully expects Carol not to break that eternal grin, but the face Carol makes is so startling that Misuzu, Tomo, and Jun alike are stunned.

Carol heads home early, and Misuzu quickly gets with Kousuke to tell him to go see Carol immediately to resolve the situation. Once he’s viciously headbutted by Carol’s mom, he enters her room to find neither an angel nor a goddess, but a lonely girl crying her eyes out because she believes the boy she loves doesn’t love her back.

Kousuke steels himself, knowing there’s no going back, and pulls Carol out of the darkness by telling her Misuzu was lying to put her in “a vulnerable state”. Then he tells her, straight up, that he loves her. Carol immediately brightens up and even gleefully shouts banzai before advancing on Kousuke, whereupon her mom blows a whistle and declares that will be enough of that for now.

Carol’s mom later tells Kousuke that she once told Carol she looks cuter when she smiles, only to find she started to smile and never stopped. She constantly worries that someone might take that smile away, but Kousuke assures her he’ll never do that, and that Carol has more friends now who have her back through thick and thin.

That comes through the next day when Carol returns to class wearing a creepy bunny mask, filling a guilty Misuzu with apprehension. She removes the mask to reveal a big goofy smile, and instead of punish or scold Misuzu, she thanks her for pulling the not-always-pleasant but necessary strings to bring her and Kousuke together.

And that, dear readers, is how the chaotic comic relief character absolutely steals Tomo’s show, like snatching candy from a large, muscular baby. All hail Carol Olsten and Sally Amaki, long may they reign!

Don’t Toy with Me, Miss Nagatoro 2nd Attack – 09 – That Doesn’t Sound Like You

Who would have thought a four-eyed, fluffy-haired, creepy pervy bean sprout Senpai could rekindle Hayase’s long extinguished passion for judo? I did, because I could see it coming a mile away. But of course it’s not whether everything would work out for these two lovebirds at the judo tournament, but how it would work out.

Obviously Naoto feels he owes it to Hayase to try to snatch at least one win as thanks for her lessons. But he also wants to impress the girl he likes, and show her that he’s not a complete wimp (though she already knows this). On the other hand, while Hayase easily beats her first round opponent, her next opponent is Orihara, a candidate to represent Japan, who easily beats Gamou (who unlike Sakura is no slouch herself).

Not only that, Orihara is the very person who caused Hayase to walk away from judo altogether. Since she was a kid she loved judo, and was good at it. She regularly beat Orihara, who didn’t have as much raw talent, and Orihara bawled her eyes out every time. But she got better with every match, and the day she finally beat Hayase, she was just as elated in victory as she was distraught in defeat.

It wasn’t that Hayase was being a sore loser per se, just that she had never dealt with defeat before and tied the constant victories to her love of judo. When she leaves the dojo to sulk outside and Naoto checks in on her, she finally opens up to him about this, then walks in wanting to get the loss over with.

Naoto rightly says she doesn’t sound like that Nagatoro he knows. She shoots him a furious look, asking what the hell gives him the right to talk like she knows her. But he does know her, and knows she’s strong and skilled enough to make it a fight. And as he says during his match, he’s decided he does have the right to not want her to make that forlorn face.

Hayase decides to make things interesting: If he can walk the walk and win at least once, she’ll give Senpai an honest-to-God smooch. While flustered by the idea, it nevertheless motivates Naoto. Even when he’s up against a musclebound brute of an opponent in Sasai, he remembers her training, and how size and brute strength aren’t always what decide a judo match.

He fights so hard, Hayase’s friends start to cheer for him, and eventually even Hayase can’t help but cheer for him too. He doesn’t let Sasai get a full point, and while he loses by ref’s decision, he never gave up, and wins not only Hayase’s adoration, but Sasai’s genuine respect.

Next up is the title bout, and as soon as it gets started, it’s clear the two black belts are in a different league than everyone else assembled. But what’s also clear is that even if she’s a bit rusty from being out of the sport, Hayase can still hold her own against a national candidate. That’s not only due to the fact she knows Orihara’s fighting well, but because she too is fueled by the cheering on of the person who likes her.

Like Naoto, Hayase fights hard and with heart, and even gets to show off her signature throw against Orihara. Unfortunately, she’s out of bounds when she does it, and like Naoto, loses by ref’s decision. Finally, she and Orihara shake hands in mutual respect. Hayase promises she’ll beat her next time, and Orihara is looking forward to it. Just a couple of golden-hearted, tough-as-hell ladies throwing down…What else could you ask for?

A kiss, perhaps? A real one, not a peck on the cheek or forehead or with lips separated by something? Well, the deal was Naoto had to win, and he didn’t, so no kiss this week. But Hayase comes up with a new bet, with the kiss this time dependent on whether she beats Orihara next time. She wants to beat Orihara, ergo she wants Senpai to kiss her. She could technically just skip to the kiss, but that’s not how these things work in rom-coms!

When he gets all flustered and decides she’s just messing with him again, she tells him, with a straight face and neutral tone, that no,  despite the title of the show, she is not messing with him in this case. Then she sprints off before her face turns completely pink in front of him.

Thus a challenge has been leveled, and one of the more satisfying, sweet, and heartwarming episodes of Nagatoro-san comes to an end. But with Sana’s little sister(?) about to enter the mix, will our couple’s heretofore smooth sailing hit stormy waters?

Don’t Toy with Me, Miss Nagatoro 2nd Attack – 08 – A Beautiful Throw

Naoto is sick of still-lifes, and wants to draw another portrait—Nagatoro specifically. She cycles through a number of martial arts poses until she gets to one specific one Naoto likes. It’s a judo pose, but Nagatoro seems self-conscious about it. Later, her friends come in, see the pose, and Nagatoro flees, not willing to tell Naoto what it means.

Gamou and Yoshi tell Naoto he should work out more; this is borne out during his judo club, when he’s annihilated in every match. Gamou gives him a flyer from her family gym, which features not only a photo of her, but also Nagatoro fighting. When Naoto sees that Nagatoro saw him “fight” and was thoroughly unimpressed, he decides to go for it.

Mind you, he arrives at the gym without telling Nagatoro, and ends up seeing her in the middle of MMA sparring with Gamou. For someone always barging into the art club room while he’s doing his thing, she’s awfully sensitive about him basically pulling the exact same thing on her!

When Naoto comes right out and tells Nagatoro he knows he sucks and judo but wants to get better, and asks if she’ll teach him, she runs off and returns with a white tunic for him. They get down to it, and Nagatoro relishes the opportunity to tussle around and pin her senpai—though her technique is so solid, he ends up committing a cardinal sin and calls her “heavy”. Not cool, Naoto!

Nagatoro is, as she says, “dainty”, which puts her at a disadvantage in MMA where mass and reach are more important. Naoto watches Gamou punch and kick her from great distance, before Nagatoro borrows a move from judo, draws in, and subjects Gamou to an epic throw. It’s notable that Nagatoro is also beaming from ear to ear when she does this.

On their way home, there’s little to no usual teasing. Instead, Naoto asks Nagatoro about judo again, and she actually opens up a bit, using her normal voice to talk about how she was once really into it but got frustrated with her physical limitations that kept her from beating the biggest and best.

Before they part ways, Naoto does her a solid at tells her the truth: her judo throw on Gamou was beautiful. He’s basically telling her she’s beautiful, so of course she runs of flustered to all heck!

A part of Nagatoro clearly still loves judo, so I wonder if Naoto will be able to convince her to participate in the same tournament he’s in and rekindle her passion. As for him, thanks to Gamou and Yoshi Sana finds out that he’s trying to get better at judo, and volunteers her services. She’s as pushy as Nagatoro, and isn’t wearing anything under her tunic to boot!

Nagatoro gets there just in time to see Sana burying Naoto’s face in her ample bosom, and briefly manifests the same powers of electricity as Lum, Uesaka Sumire’s Urusei Yatsura character. But it’s Naoto who tells Sana thanks but no thanks, he wants Nagatoro to teach him. That makes Nagatoro happy, and elicits a proud smile from Sana.

Then, Sana meets with a mini-Sana outside. Even with Naoto’s senpai done with exams and school, it looks like a new Sunomiya is about to enter his school life…and perhaps even give Nagatoro more healthy competition!

The Eminence in Shadow – 20 (Fin) – Just Getting Started

Before she knew it, Princess Iris, who not only believed she was the strongest fighter in her kingdom, but needed to believe it, was beaten. Mundane Mann’s sword lingered at her throat. He could have taken her life ay any moment, and she knew it. Not taking her life, showing mercy, isn’t what enrages Iris.

It’s when Mann lowers his sword, without even asking if she yields, because something else has gotten his attention. He thinks so little of her as his opponent he can not only turn away, but leave the battlefield. Of course, it’s so Cid can stop Rose from getting herself killed, then face off against an even stronger opponent in Beatrix.

Cid and Beatrix cross blades so quickly as they guide through the rainy sky, they almost look like fireworks. But soon the two-person dance gains a third partner. Iris isn’t done with Shadow; not by a long shot. Unfortunately for her and Beatrix, he is simply in another league when it comes to speed, strength, and precision. He even fights them with his beloved crowbars!

Meanwhile, Rose is free, but asks herself in a dark alley, what now? Alpha appears to give her two options: try to save her kingdom by going it alone, which will almost surely end in failure and death…or join Shadow Garden and prove both she and Oriana are worth saving.

Of all the women Cid has dueled with, Annerose definitely gets off the easiest; she’s a picture of tranquility as Iris and Beatrix throw everything they have at Shadow in the background. Bon Voyage, Annerose!

It takes some sustained futility for Iris and Beatrix to finally agree to work together, which consists of Iris using one of her flashier fire attacks with her enchanted mithril sword—the use of which she earlier agreed is underhanded, but she has no choice.

She aims to stop Shadow even if it costs her her life, but even her best attack doesn’t even hit, nor does Beatrix’s, which she executes after charging up with a cool display of whirling geometric shapes. Iris ends up face down on the ground, and Beatrix soon joins her, Shadow stomping them both into submission.

When Iris tells Shadow that their attack has only been stalling for time, the entire Knight’s Order has mustered, and there’s nowhere for him to run, Cid breaks out his loudest, most drawn-out, supervillainous (excuse me: supereminancious) laugh yet. Run? Run where? Why?

No, Shadow is staying right where he is, because playtime is over. Cid really chews into the clichés here, and just generally has an absolute blast—literally, as he covers the capital in an eerie purple dome, then unleashes I AM ATOMIC as the ultimate battle-ending coup-de-grace.

But—and this is key—this I AM ATOMIC is totally benign; just a glorified puff of smoke that allows him to withdraw of his own accord. When Beatrix and Iris come to, the rain is gone, the sky is clear and blue, and a rainbow arches over them. Beatrix is her usual stoic self, but Iris starts blubbering like a child. I’ll say this for Shadow, she brings out a side of Iris no one else can!

Speaking of women he negatively affected, remember Sherry Barnett? I do! And she makes a quick cameo in the ending minutes of the episode that serve as an epilogue. She’s itching to fight and kill him, while Asshat get scolded by his Cult superior, trying to frame his failure as a positive since it resulted in the destabilization of Oriana.

As for Cid Kagenou, he continues to not be killed by his sister, and is back on the train to the temporary buildings where dark knight academy classes take place until Gamma’s conglomerate rebuilds the academy. The Seven Shades are hard at work both in the shadows and in broad daylight, doing what must be done.

Rose wisely decides to join Shadow Garden, but learns that it won’t be a picnic. After walking dozens of miles, she and Alpha reach the Garden’s secluded headquarters, ancient city of Alexandria, which gives off some serious Nazarick vibes.

There, Alpha hands Rose of to Lambda, who tells her her life and identity up to that point are over and meaningless. With one swipe, Rose’s clothes—and more distressingly, her beloved burger wrapper—are torn to shreds. But before long, “Number 666”, as she has been re-named, will likely have a sleek slime suit of her own—and renewed purpose.

The Eminence in Shadow appropriately and perfectly concludes with its namesake character, once again playing Moonlight Sonata in a dark, dramaticaly lit room filled with drifting feathers. It is only the latest of many carefully-orchestrated “set pieces” Cid is not only fond of, but lives for.

With his army and background influence growing and his enemies sharpening their swords, there’s a ton that could be done in a theoretical second season. If and when that season becomes a reality, I’ll be right there, parked in my comfy Ikea chair, ready to watch Cid act like a endearing goofball and a breathless badass simultaneously. But for now, Eminence goes out on the highest of notes.

Saving 80,000 Gold in Another World – 06 – Visiting Friends

Mitsuha raked in 260 gold for Adelaide’s debutant ball, which she converts to 26 million yen. That’s nearly $200,000—not too bad! That also means 1 gold = 100,000 yen, or about $760. It also means 80,000 gold is worth $60,871,200. I guess Mitsuha will be spending her retirement in Beverly Hills!

In any case, the success of the feast in particular had every noble in attendance to order their chefs to step up their game, or else. That’s why Baron Turk’s chef is perhaps a little on edge and overly aggressive in his demand for fish, which Mitsuha makes clear she doesn’t sell direct.

Fortunately for Mitsuha, Lady and Duke Bozes enter the store and scare the chef off. Unfortunately for Mitsuha, she must close her store for the day because Lady Iris drags her back to their manor in the boonies for a long-delayed visit.

Beatrice in particular is jealous of being the only one not to attend Adelaide’s ball, and gets Mitsuha to commit to planning her ball when she comes of age in two years. That night Mitsuha is feted with a celebratory feast, the quality of which she does not comment, and also has to come up with some pretty wild explanations for how the logistics of Adelaide’s ball played out.

Mitsuha talks for so long, she ends up staying the night, and Beatrice visits her late at night to get her to reaffirm her promise to handle her debutante ball. Beatrice impresses upon Mitsuha how ladies are engaged at 10 and become adults and marry at 15.

Beatrice also starts asking pointe questions about Mitsuha’s love life, which we know to be non-existent. At one point Mitsuha wonders if Beatrice has the hots for her, then finds notes under her sleeve from both her brothers and her dad, who paid her to pump Mitsuha for info.

Mitsuha agrees to provide Beatrice with intel, but she’ll pay her for it as well (never doubt Mitsuha’s ability to make a profit from any situation!) Also, the information will be completely manufactured, in order to best mislead the Bozes men and maintain her intriguing, mysterious persona.

When Mitsuha returns to her store, a fight between a fugitive and a bounty hunter bursts inside. Mitsuha takes a quick check of her armaments, but ends up wisely using a non-lethal pepper spray. When the fugitive runs out with one of her knives, she gives chase along with the swordswoman.

She then meets an archer girl, babyfaced spearman, and grizzle greatsword-wielding veteran: the perfect fantasy adventurer/mercenary guild party. Liking the cut of this quartet’s jib, Mitsuha immediately hires them for a mission—the nature of which we’ll no doubt learn next week.

Saving 80,000 Gold in Another World – 05 – The Debut

Lord and Lady Reiner accompany Marcel and his sous chef to Mitsuha’s for a tasting session. Once again, the menu is exclusively pre-made/boil-in-the-bag dishes, which saves Mitsuha time and money while still exceeding the standards for taste in this world. When the Reiners agree to avail themselves of her services, she doesn’t just want to provide the ingredients and training for the kitchen staff.

If she’s in this, she wants to handle every aspect of fair Adelaide’s big debut party. This marks the first time she’s taken someone with her back to her world—in this case, to a hyper couturier friend of hers who is instantly inspired by Adelaide’s striking beauty. Needless to say, the ethical and metaphysical ramifications of sending someone to her world are skimmed over…we’ve got a party to plan!

Throughout all these preparations, Mitsuha’s store is closed, and we see someone trying to open her door. That made me weary—what if someone got their hands on modern Japanese tech when she’s not there to shoot them? But the debutante even starts off without a hitch, with Mitsuha using projected backgrounds from her laptop and dry ice smoke to add to the theatricality of Adelaide’s gorgeous outfits.

While impressed by the special effects and charmed by Adelaide, the assembled nobles chafe at the paltry portions. But that complaint is answered when they’re presented with an elaborate buffet of foreign delicacies, including fresh fish and seafood. The Bozes family are among those nobles, and Lady Iris snags Mitsuha to chat while her son talks to Adelaide. It turns out Iris was the one trying to enter Mitsuha’s store.

The only real snag the party hits is that it’s been such a blast for all in attendance, no one leaves when they usually would, and the kitchen starts running out of food (and energy). Coach Mitsuha excuses herself from the Bozes, rallies Marcel and the chefs, and improvises, prepping a huge batch of French fries and breaking out a big spread of desserts.

The banquet and ball are a massive success, and Adelaide even flashes an angelic smile of gratitude. Other nobles with daughters about to come of age will have to step up their games, which likely means they’ll be reaching out to Mitsuha for her consulting services—where the real big bucks are.

Urusei Yatsura – 15 – Airing of Grievances

In an effort to woo Rei, Ran buys a giant bag of bean-filled taiyaki and dresses in her best Barbarella outfit. It seems to work when Rei thanks her for the food by planting a tender kiss on her cheek. Ran declares it the happiest moment of her life.

She invites Lum to her place to gloat about it celebrate her newfound happiness. Considering Ran’s personality changes at the drop of a hat, Lum is initially unsure why she’s there, as more often than not Ran treats her like an enemy these days. But when she hears about the kiss she gives Ran and Rei her blessing.

It’s odd, then, when she returns to Ataru’s house, Rei is there waiting for her. Ran also shows up for more girl talk, and finds Lum in Rei’s arms. When the giant cat (who is also there for some reason) gives Ran a commiseratory taiyaki, she scarfs it down…and Rei kisses her again. Turns out he’s eating the bean crumbs off her face. Classic Rei.

Another day, Ran invites Lum out for coffee and pudding, declaring that Lum will be treating her. She unleashes a litany of events from her past, giving us adorable Lil’ Lum and Lil’ Ran. From pinning the blame on Ran when Lum wet the bed during sleepovers, to Lum being a lousy liar when trying to cover for her, Ran blames Lum for causing her to develop her current volatile personality—though her intense mom probably deserves more blame.

Lum doesn’t remember these events in quite the way Ran does, though why would she, when Ran casts her as the bad guy in every one? Even so, when Ran completes her exhaustive rundown, Lum can’t help but feel somewhat responsible. Ran has given her a lot to think about…and she thinks about it so strongly, she ends up leaving the café before Ran, thus leaving her with the bill! I guess there’s no changing this frenemyship dynamic…

The final segment involves Lum and Shinobu spotting Sakura roasting a newt. When Sakura lists all the traditional medicines it’s used for, they lose interest and start to walk away…until she mentions love potion. Sakura, who swears she’s never used it herself, nevertheless agrees to whip up a batch for Lum (for use on Ataru) and Shinobu (Mendou).

Ataru is the first guinea pig, and while he initially starts behaving affectionately (and monogamously) towards Lum, much to her delight, as soon as they interact with other people he starts spouting blatant, elaborate lies. Then he spots Shinobu and starts acting like she’s the only one in his heart. Clearly something is off about the love potion, and they head back to Sakura.

Sure enough, she made the “loud” potion, the recipe for which is right next to the love potion, and causes those who take it to lie, loudly. That certainly doesn’t bode well for Lum or Shinobu, but in particular it’s a step backwards in Lum and Ataru’s relationship. But just like Ran, and Rei, and Lum, Ataru is a creature of habit—in his case being an unrepentant horndog lothario. No potion can cure him of that, only time patience, and luck.

Rating: 4/5 Stars

To Your Eternity – S2 13 – Fushi for the People

With Fushi having to build quicker to make his daily quotas, he isn’t home a lot, so Eko decides to bring dinner she made to him. It tastes terrible, but it’s the thought that counts. While everyone else is keeping Fushi on task, Eko and Kahaku don’t want him to forget the little things that make us human. But while Fushi appears to be sleeping in his room, it’s just a dummy; the real Fushi is out rebuilding through the night.

One of Renril’s biggest remaining vulnerabilities is its underground water and sewer system, which has to be completely rebuilt to make it Nokker-proof. During this process, Eko notices the water is dirty, tracks down the source of the fouling, and alerts the proper channels, all without saying a word. She even pitches in with the demo work, one stone and plank at a time.

At this point Kahaku has taken on the role of house husband, keeping an Eye on Eko, cooking meals, and keeping the Booze Man’s house clean. He also continues to worry about how hard Fushi is working. Eko lures him home with a clay pot vision of a feast of all his favorites. While he’s initially disappointed to find hot pot instead, once he tastes it, he gives his complimnents to the chef—in this case Eko. It wasn’t her cooking that was bad, but the city water.

Eko’s hard work spurs Fushi to work even harder. Messar gets the princess to agree to extend Founding Day to a week to keep the bulk of the citizens in the festival area, allowing Fushi to rebuild the network of towering walls one by one. The more he builds, the more sensations—both good and bad—he feels. If he focuses too much on them, they overwhelm him. He realizes he can’t help anyone. There are too many people with too many problems big and small.

Fushi’s in a charitable mood the next day, when he agrees to take the fall for Cam in a fighting tournament so he can impress the girl he likes. However, stuff happens that attract the suspicions of the citizen soldiers and Fushi’s little favor to Cam nearly exposes him. That night, the soldiers decide to head out looking for the one doing all the building, wondering if its the Fushi demon the Church of Bennett condemned.

The soldiers end up catching Fushi in the act…of rebuilding a wall. Fushi accepts that he’s been caught with cool resignation—a kind of do your worst, ya ingrates stance. He also boasts that even if the church captures him again, he knows his way out of molten metal now, and will be free again in two days. But by shifting into various forms the soldiers all know, they realize it was Fushi who helped them and their loved ones all those times in the past days, weeks, and months.

The next day, an adamant Fushi decides to walk out onto the streets in his regular form, whatever slings and arrows come his way. But to his surprise, both royal knight and citizen soldier salute him, and he gets nods of approval and thanks from the other citizens. Bon and Messar flank him as he continues his walk, not of shame, but of honor. The people have spoken: if Fushi is a demon, he’s a demon on their side.

Rating: 4/5 Stars

Urusei Yatsura – 14 – Pinch Hitter

Another week, another new Urusei Yatsura character. This time it’s Mizunokouji Tobimaro, AKA Ton-chan, a childhood friend of Mendou and Ryouko. Once defeated by Mendou in baseball, he went to the mountains for training, only to return just as uncoordinated and accident-prone as ever.

What makes Ton interesting is that unlike the other guys, he has absolutely no interest in girls, only in beating Mendou. One could even take it a step further and call his obsession with Mendou a crush. But it’s Ryouko who has always loved Ton, whose fear and hatred of women may be due to him being the recipient of her elaborate and often violent pranks over the years.

A ridiculous ballgame ensues in which Ton is complete rubbish but Ryouko deploys her ninja manservants to manipulate the baseball (i.e. hold it and run with it like they’re invisible). Despite Ton being on his team Ataru intervenes, resulting in a duel. But Ton is determined for a rematch with Mendou.

He hadn’t counted on Ryouko encasing Mendou in cement from the neck down, which means she is the one walking the octopi on the bridge when he tosses his challenge letter to her. Only it doesn’t look or read like a challenge letter, but a love letter.

Mendou, who is as firmly against a Ton-Ryouko union as Ton himself, forbids Ryouko from leaving the family compound. But she’s not only able to escape in her litter, but rope Ataru into assisting her with keeping Mendou away from her plans to see Ton at the athletic center. As usual, Ryouko’s methods for communication show no regard for other people’s peace or property.

As Ataru gloms onto Ryouko, Lum follows and electricutes and chastises him for straying yet again, especially since Ryouko has no real interest in him beyond him keeping Mendou at bay. Mendou, meanwhile, reveals he’d disguised himself as one of her manservants in order to come between her and Ryouko.

Ton’s one-on-one challenge with Mendou ends up being a five-way fracas between him, Ataru, Lum, Mendou, and Ryouko. Ton takes the lion’s share of the punishment, demonstrating that he’d actually make a perfect match for Ryouko and her violent pranks since he is able to take a great deal of physical punishment.

Mendou eventually even concedes the battle and allows him to date Ryouko, even though that’s the last thing he wants. It’s an episode packed with manic chaos and slapstick, with the only one you could call satisfied in the end being Ryouko. Which is all that matters to her!

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