To Your Eternity – S2 03 – Everything’s Peachy

Tonari told Fushi to find friends, and Kahaku claims to be one. As the first male of Hayase’s successors, his sole interest in women means Fushi doesn’t have to worry about being seduced. He also brings warning to Fushi that there’s a bounty on his head from a Church that considers both him and the Guardians as heretics.

Kahaku encourages Fushi to join the Guardians on their travels through towns and cities, showing himself to the people. It’s basically a PR junket, and the first of the villages is full of those who regard Fushi as a savior. He acts the part, producing both coin and food out of thin air for his followers.

When some not-so-friendly villagers attack Fushi, the Guardians protect him, though he does get hit by an egg. Kahaku suggests Fushi travel to the next city in a different form. When Fushi settles on Parona, Kahaku develops a crush, but for the journey Fushi shifts to Joan for better mobility.

While in this larger city, as in all previous settlements, the Guardians raise their banner, bearing the symbol of Jananda: three crossed swords representing the three major churches coming together as one. It’s a nice idea, but it’s not currently a reality, and Fushi starts to question if he’s truly “doing what he wants” (as Pyoran urged), and whether Kahaku is really one of the friends Tonari told him to make.

One day while walking in the woods between cities, Parona and Kahaku are suddenly caught in a rope trap, and the other Guardians are captured by strange purple knights. An extremely eccentric and flamboyant man in elaborate finery introduces himself: Prince Bonchien Nikolai La Tastypeach Uralys, their captor.

Bon talks a big game and even has an attendant he uses as a chair, but when Parona!Fushi frees herself and brandishes a sword, Bon goes to pieces. The chair-attendant explains that Bon sometimes talks to someone who’s not there.  Fushi is intrigued by this strange fellow, and allows herself to be captured, as long as Kahaku and the others come to and are not harmed. Bon agrees.

Bon is voiced by Koyasu Takehito, who is always an absolute hoot and often plays these kinds of out-there, over-the-top characters. Bon is no different, and Koyasu’s performance is a big reason why I found myself taking an instant liking to Bon. Another is that he’s quite unlike any other character in To Your Eternity thus far.

The capital of the Kingdom of Uralys is as whimsical as its prince: towers of pink, purples, and other pastels rising out of fissures in the earth. Despite the somewhat barren landscape the city is bustling and prosperous, and the smallfolk love their flashy prissy prince. The use of mimicking birds as microphones is a nice touch, as is the fact Bon’s father the king is tiny and adorable.

Bon orders ninja-like fashionistas to pounce on Fushi and give her a glow-up for dinner, as well as wash the stink of the road off Kahaku. Bon introduces his brother Prince Torta and his sister Princess Pocoa, who are excited and curious about Fushi. While technically captives, Fushi and Kahaku are treated well, and even share the table with the royal family, who pepper Fushi with questions about his orb-y origins and “the black one”.

Fushi’s mood sours when she learns Tonari’s diary was published, meaning one of Kahaku’s ancestors dug up her grave to procure it. She leaves the table, goes outside, and attempts to scurry off in mole form, but Bon follows and catches her. Kahaku joins them, and asks Bon to provide an army to Fushi and the Guardians so they can properly fight the Nokkers.

Bon considers it, but their talk is interrupted when representatives from the Church of Bennett (the ones who issued the bounty) come for Fushi. Bon shoos them away, saying Fushi isn’t going anywhere for the time being. The Bennettans leave, but they’ll surely be back, and possibly in force.

It’s after that encounter that we learn from Bon’s father the king that he’s not actually the crown prince; that’s the far less flashy Torta. Apparently his father believes him unfit to rule, but he’s determined to convince him otherwise, and capturing Fushi is a big part of that. But Fushi has apparently had his fill of all of this, and is considering letting the Nokkers absorb him entirely.

The Beholder appears to tell him even if he does that, he’ll simply return to being an orb and have to start over from nothing. Fushi claims not to care, as long as he’s not sacrificing any more of the living. To the Beholder’s count, over 13,000 people have been killed by the Nokkers, which isn’t much compared to natural disasters but still too many for Fushi’s taste.

The Beholder sees there’s no reasoning with Fushi, so he descends into the ground, but Prince Bon tells Fushi he’ll create “a new world” for him, so he should at least wait until after that to decide whether he wants to surrender to the enemy. While Fushi has value to Bon as a tool (like the Guardians), there’s also a chance, given time, that Bon could become a real friend. I want to see that friendship, and that new world. Then there’s the fact Fushi’s eye briefly changes from yellow to purple.

Rating: 4/5 Stars

To Your Eternity – S2 02 – Going to Town

With everyone else out cold, Tonari and Hisame have a little chat, but it quickly descends into violence as Hisame’s arm has a mind and will of its own (specifically Hayase’s). Once it gets its Nokker tendrils into Tonari’s hands, I knew it probably wasn’t going to go well for her. Her trusty owl Ligard knocks Hisame out with her poison talons, but the Nokker arm isn’t affected and drags Hisame into the night.

Tonari loses consciousness, and when Fushi comes to as an honored guest of the village elder, he finds her already on her death bed. There’s nothing her companion can do. All Tonari asks is that Fushi stay by her side until she “croaks”, and also show her all of the friends he’s made.

Fushi proceeds to transform into everyone from the original Boy to Tonari’s dead family, noting that his friends Tonari and Sander are still alive (he’d know if they weren’t). But what he doesn’t realize is that the two of them are right beside him, though Tonari soon dies and Sander says goodbye without revealing their identities.

It’s only when Fushi takes Tonari’s form and finds her journal behind her back that he realizes it was her all along, and that it’s always better to have many arrows than one. Now Tonari is part of his shapeshifting quiver. He soon runs into Hisame in the woods.

He wants to remove her Nokker arm, but she refuses, even when he transforms into Tonari. That night after wrapping her arm, she tells him that is her and her predecessor’s dream to have a child with him, which she hopes can happen if they “sleep together”. Both of them take this literally, which is obviously for the best!

The next day Fushi finds Hisame’s minders and returns her to them, and there’s a moment of levity as the Beholder tells Fushi that his reproductive organs work just fine, so he can “go to town” whenever. Again, Fushi takes this literally to go into town to make friends, and the Beholder doesn’t comment further, leaving Fushi to either figure out things in that arena to himself or not.

He travels from city to city, never staying longer than a couple of days lest the Nokkers have time to show up and take root. He has little luck making new friends, largely because whenever they seem friend-worthy he worries about watching them die, and breaks things off.

His only constant companions in the ensuing years are leaders of the Guardians, starting with Hisame’s Daughter (who was born many years after she and Fushi parted ways). Then her granddaughter, great-granddaughter, and so on for a few more generations show up, the latest being Kahaku, the first male successor. One would hope at this point in time that Hayase’s fye has mellowed a bit.

Rating: 4/5 Stars

Fabiniku – 06 – Cellophane Squid

When Schwartz summons the sleepy and adorable Goddess of Night (Noto Mamiko), the Lord, Lucius, and the town guard all bow their heads, while the goddess notices Tachibana, shrinks to human size, removes Tachibana’s pink coat, and reveals the tattoo that identifies her as a hero of the Goddess of Love and Beauty.

We not only learn that Jinguuji could be considered Tachibana’s “weapon”, as Gram is (or rather was) to Schwartz. They also learn that Tachibana’s charms affect different people in different ways. The lord hopes to enter into a mutually beneficial political marriage with Tachibana, which she seems to be receptive to owing to the promise of three meals and a nap per day.

Jinguuji proves to be more than just her weapon in this world, but also an important devil’s advocate. Tachibana is only looking at the surface benefits and ignoring the disadvantages of the arrangement with the lord. Chief among them is the fact that she and Jinguuji  have been having fun traveling the world rather than staying and working in one place. Rather than let the town become their next office, the two decide to continue their vacation.

While resting in the apartment between towns, Tachibana unearths a composition book from when she and Jinguuji  were in elementary school. Tachibana wrote that her dream of the future was “cellophane tape”, which Jinguuji admits made so little sense he was actually afraid. But it’s instructive that in response to the question “if you could only take one thing on an island with you, what would it be?” The young Tachibana wrote “Jinguuji”.

As for Jinguuji’s dreams for the future, he doesn’t let Tachibana read that part, scribbling over it with permanent marker. This results in a spat between the two, with Tachibana huffing as she walks ahead of him and calling him a useless eggplant. It’s this state of rancor in an unfamiliar land that contributes to Jinguuji losing track of Tachibana.

In the process of looking for her, he finds the same cart in which they briefly spotted the captive elf premier. She’s been taken prisoner to be used as a sacrifice to their deity, which demands only the most beautiful people. The vain she-elf tries in vain to use her “allure” to get her captor to free her.

To add insult to injury, the squid vendor shows up with a captured Tachibana, claiming she’ll be an even more beautiful sacrifice. Obviously Jinguuji will show up in time to save both beautiful women, but until then it looks like we’re in store for a lot more chaotic, irreverent comedy. I’m here for it!

Rating: 4/5 Stars

The Faraway Paladin – 08 – Fellowship of the Sing

When Will saves the tiny halfling troubadour Robina “Bee” Goodfellow and her merchant companion An”Tonio” from a giant ape (simply by staring it down!), his traveling party suddenly doubles in size. They make a deal with Bee and Tonio to travel to the various villages on the way to Whitesails and make money together. Bee attracts customers with her song and lute play; Will heals the injured, and Tonio sells them stuff.

It works out pretty well, and to Will’s delight, Bee also happens to be a font of oral history, including the legends of Blood, Mary, and Gus. While not mentioned by name in Bee’s songs, the trio of are nevertheless still remembered fondly for their heroics. There are times early and late in the episode when we’re clearly just getting an infodump along with Will, but Bee at least makes it interesting by applying music to the stories.

Indeed, we’re transported back to when Blood, Mary, and Gus were human and took on a giant wyvern in order to save a beautiful half-elf girl from being sacrificed. The human boy who loved her gave every coin he could to pay them, which wasn’t nearly their going rate, but it didn’t matter. The two lovebirds are sent off to make something of themselves with a dagger and a bag of coins, and Gus tells them he’ll come to collect the debt, using his name as the password.

That half-elf woman is still alive, waiting at her home for Gus or his representative to come. It’s almost as if Will’s parents inadvertently laid out a path for him to walk, serving Gracefeel and spreading word of her grace to all he encounters. Tonio admits he finds Will an odd duck; someone who doesn’t seem capable of being sold anything in the classical sense.

Of course, as someone who considers his formidable powers not his own but only being borrowed from his goddess, Will doesn’t care about trinkets or riches, only friends, good times, and the revitalization of Gracefeel’s following. A bit port city like Whitesails should be a grate place to gain all of those things.

The aquatope on white sand – 08 – Attack of the xanthid crab

Thanks to tireless work on the phones from Karin, Gama Gama finally gets to go on the road. Specifically, they’re bringing a little bit of the aquarium to Nanjo General Clinic’s pediatric ward. The ward’s kabourophobic director, Dr. Kinjou, has only one non-negotiable condition: no crabs.

So as chance should have it, one of the Gama Gama’s Xanthid crabs stows away in one of the traveling aquarium’s tank, and is discovered by Fuuka, who is left alone to set things up the common room when Kukuru, Karin, and Umi-yam are busy with other matters. Predictably, one of Fuuka’s fingers gets snapped and the crab is free to roam the hospital.

Meanwhile, Kukuru presents Dr. Kinjou with some stuffed sea life for the kids and goes off on a tangent about eels, and the doctor ends up making a comment about how nice it is they’re keeping busy before Gama Gama closes.

Karin later tells Kukuru that due to her job with the Tourism Association, she hears things, like that the new aquarium being built at the civic center will sap Gama Gama of what little tourist traffic it enjoys, spelling its doom. Kukuru doesn’t want to hear it, a skulks away to the roof.

She’s eventually joined by Umi-yan, who primarily came to the clinic to visit his young friend Airi, who was a regular visitor to Gama Gama before her hospitalization. Airi gives Umi-yan and sea life the cold shoulder.

She’s drawn back into the world beneath the waves when the xanthid crab climbs Dr. Kinjou and threatens to snap at her neck! Airi, the only one close enough to help the paralyzed-with-fear Kinjou, reaches out and carefully grabs the crab, marveling at how it’s alive.

Newly charmed by the sea, Airi joins the other kids in the common room, and the crab is safely stowed in a bucket for the return trip. Airi finally gets to interact with the theraputic doctorfish Umi-yan promised, and a huge smile returns to her face. Like the other kids, the aquarium is a welcome distraction from their health issues.

Dr. Kinjou initially seems ready to lodge formal complaints left and right, but lets the crab incident slide out of appreciation for the sparkly eyes and smiles the traveling aquarium gave the kids.

On the elevator ride down to the exit, Karin confesses that it was once her dream to be an aquarium attendant like Kukuru, but had to choose more stable employment due to her family situation.

When she watches Kukuru rush headlong towards her dream, Karin can’t help but feel a little envious. This makes me wonder if there’s a potential future where Karin makes her dream come true at a revitalized Gama Gama. But with news of a shiny new rival aquarium and a new face who has come to train at Gama Gama for that aquarium, Kukuru faces a very uphill climb.

It’s here where I must admit I found this to be the weakest episode of Aquatope yet, even though I still enjoyed it. Some of its strongest moments felt like variations on very similar, stronger moments from past episodes. It wavered between a Karin-centric episode, keeping the pressure on Kukuru, and Umi-yan being the nicest big guy in the world.

Most importantly, it had precious little Kukuru-Fuuka interaction. Whether you see their relationship as sisterly or romantic, it’s the beating heart of this show, and without it the episode felt underweight and hollow—like a crab you caught that’s too small to eat.

Zero kara Hajimeru Mahou no Sho – 04

Grimoire of Zero continues to feel episodic; last week was the big city episode, while this was largely a transitory outing, full of little slice-of-life vignettes that serve to deepen our understanding of who Mercenary, Zero, and Albus are—not to mention having the latter two bounce off the former, both literally and figuratively.

One thing is clear: Albus has quickly softened his “kill all beastfallen” stance, while Zero, neophyte to the outside world that she is, has formed a very close bond with Merc, considering him not just an employee, but a project.

She and Albus repeat the joke about them being sex slaves to the gate guards, but when one of the children he scared away is hurt (when another beastfallen shoves her out of his way), Zero makes it look like Merc fully heals the young woman’s ankle.

Changing hearts and minds will be key if the war between the factions of this world is to ever cease. After that, the downright leisurely pace of the episode is mitigated somewhat by the fact the trio covers a fair amount of ground, much of it very picturesque (see above).

Albus gets some pointers on fishing magic from Zero, while Zero also attempts to give Merc a kiss (and is rebuffed by the bashful tiger).

The trio tucks into another fine meal by Merc (who wants to one day open and run a tavern), and learns that Albus was orphaned and raised by his granny, and that Zero grew up in the caves studying sorcery and may well have developed her Grimoire of Zero in order to eat better. Not a bad reason, if you ask me!

Continuing the theme of Zero wanting to get closer to Merc, she offers to train him in magic, which will keep them together for some time. All this sticking around with people for an extended length of time is clearly a new concept for Merc, but I don’t think he loathes it as much as he sometimes protests; quite the contrary.

Thinks finally take a turn for the dark, and a rather sudden one, at that, once the trio reaches the outskirts of their next destination, the village of Latette. Albus knows the village well, and a dog he knows comes to greet him, but it’s carrying a burnt doll. The trio looks on and is horrified to see it is also smoldering; its inhabitants burned alive.

Is it mere raiders, or more likely, hostile witches fighting in their late idol Sorena’s name to exact revenge on humans? Whatever it is, our trio will likely have to tread carefully once again, and avoid revealing too much of themselves to strangers—something they now have no trouble doing with each other.

Grimoire of Zero has its charms, but it isn’t particularly spellbinding; it’s a bit of a dawdle at times. It’s certainly no match for recent fantasy adventure shows like Grimgar, Alderamin, or Re:Zero. If it was airing any other day but Monday I’d have probably already dropped it, but after a four-episode sample, I believe I’ve watched enough after all.

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