Sarazanmai – 11 (Fin) – Just Like That

Sooo….yeah. True to form, Ikuni chooses not to go with the simple, straightforward finale, at least not in terms of presentation. A frikkin’ lot happens in these final twenty-odd minutes. It’s a torrent of ideas, metaphors, and processes; almost too much to take in all at once.

While it retained several elements of previous episodes, I still felt like I was back in that first episode, wondering what the hell was going on. But like that first episode, I also didn’t particularly care if I wasn’t quite absorbing everything Sarazanmai was confidently emitting.

At the end of the day, for all the window dressing and CONCEPTS, Kazuki and Enta’s odyssey into the darkness to rescue their friend was nothing more than that: They simply weren’t going to allow their connection to one another be severed—not by a Toi wracked by guilt and grief, not by the Otter egging Toi on, and not by Keppi’s dark half.

When they finally get to Toi, who is in the midst of erasing his memories and thus connections from them, the other two put their faith in the talisman that started their connection in the first place: the miçanga. As they plummet into the abyss watching their connections vanish one moment at a time, Toi himself cries for a stop to it all; for once he doesn’t want to give everything up for anyone. He wants to keep what he has: the friendship of Kazuki and Enta.

As Keppi and Dark Keppi battle and eventually fuse into a Full Keppi, the three friends in kappa form deliver the miçanga to a young Kazuki, shoring up the connection at its source and causing Mr. Otter to crumble away to dust, frustrated that he, an abstract concept, would be defeated.

NO YOU DON’T! STOP LYING!!!

A-Ahem…anyway, Once they’re all back in the normal world (whatever that means), Toi does the right thing and turns himself in, and is sent to juvie, from which he emerges three years later only to throw himself off a bridge. Fortunately, not only does the jump not kill him, but Kazuki and Enta jump in after him, having waited for him to get out all this time. They proceed to run around and have fun, together again at last.

Now that they, as the Kappa King put it, connected their desires through the pain of loss, they and only they can take the future in their hands. Does that mean the three will compete at the World Cup in Qatar? Probably not. But perhaps they no longer have any need for dishes of hope, transformation into kappas, or shirikodama extraction.

Advertisements

Sarazanmai – 10 – A Little Bit of Dishtory Repeating

Way back when, after the siege of Keppi’s castle, Otter saves Mabu’s live with a mechanical heart, but only if he makes a solemn promise. In the present, Reo reveals he’s a kappa too, once a vassal of Keppi’s along with Mabu. He shrink-wraps Keppi and demands the final dish of hope, but empathizes with Kazaki’s wish to save someone close to him, and so lets him tag along while he collects the other four dishes.

During the descent, Reo laughs at Kazuki’s earnest attempt to save his connection with Enta, and his jadedness is understandable; the Mabu they encounter is less his Mabu than ever; cold, distant, and in Reo’s words, nothing but a fake, half-baked doll. They descend further and find Dark Keppi, the half of Keppi created when he split his Shirikodama to escape capture by the Otters.

This otter demands the dishes, and also places Enta in “Enta’s World”, in which his desire—to be loved by Kazuki—is made real. But like Reo with the resurrected Mabu, it’s just not the same, and Enta escapes the fantasy. Reo has a key assist by shooting the head off the Otter and producing four of the five dishes needed, but just then Mabu jumps from a precipice and ends up transforming into a Zombie Kappa.

This means Reo has to be transformed by Keppi—like he and Mabu were in the old times—and go through the same (literal!) song and dance as Kazuki, Enta, and Toi. Even Miyano Mamoru’s casual singing voice is better than those of the other three, as he peers into Mabu’s Shirikodama and learns that in order to live and stay by Reo’s side, Mabu had to give up his connection with him.

That means when Mabu, who he only just freed from zombiehood, decides he can’t live on with that severed connection anymore. Pledging his everlasting love for Reo, his deal with Otter is broken, his mechanical heart stops, and he disappears. When the dust clears, Keppi creates a new fifth dish of hope (Kazuki broke one earlier) and Reo is beside himself with grief, unleashing it with his pistol in a destruction spree that ruins Asakusa’s bridges.

Then Reo forgets who Mabu ever was, and is then shot through the heart…by Toi, who has returned from the ferry. Kazuki thinks he’s changed his mind and come to rescue him and Enta, but Toi hesitates, wanting the five dishes to bring his brother back. Enta’s clock runs down to fifteen, ten, zero seconds…and Kazuki makes his  wish, even at gunpoint.

When Enta wakes up, Toi admits he probably would have saved Enta too…but now he’s as full of grief and rage and desire as Reo was before he shot him. That attracts Otter, who looks to bring him under his influence, using the spectre of his older brother to lure him in. Once Chikai appears, whispering in his ear, Toi lets go of Kazuki’s hand and walks into the darkness of his own volition.

With Kazuki, Enta, Haruka, Mabu and Reo’s stories largely complete, the final episode will seek to close the book on Toi, one way or another, who has only had to live in a world without his brother for a few hours (maybe less), and is thus all too easily manipulated by Otter. We’ll see how Keppi and the Golden Duo fare against that negative influence, and maybe get back to being three normal soccer-loving kids.

Hitsugi no Chaika: Avenging Battle – 05

chai252

Early on, this episode threatened to deep six itself by freeing the good guys almost immediately thanks to appallingly bad guards, who are basically just like fuzzy stormtroopers in terms of effectiveness. It also cut too often to the horrendously dull, genetic evil Izhmash who orders executions like I order cheese fries and is constantly berating his staff, though considering how poorly they perform, he’s not outside his rights to do so.

chai253

However, releasing the Chaikas, and Tooru, early, is a blessing in disguise. First of all, we can justify it with the simple fact that as tough as these mass-produced demi-humans and Fayla are, our heroes are pretty damn tough too. They’ve been through their share of toughs spots before. While it doesn’t quite excuse how lame Izhmash isI can buy that a highly isolated and reclusive research facility would overestimate the power of their heretofore untested creations against a battle-hardened group of prisoners.

chai254

But back to our friends’ early release: it forces Red Chaika to work with White (White probably doesn’t have a problem working with Red) to escape. This results in some priceless dialogue between the two, both of them speaking weirdly like they do. White Chaika also frees the doll-like Niva Lada from her restrains and brings her along, which proves crucial later in the episode. (Fun note: Trabant, Bogdan, and Lada Niva are all brands Eastern European cars. Not to mention the Acura siblings…)

chai255

It also gives Chaika the opportunity to really let its hair down and play with all the pieces it’s set up the last couple episodes, all RPG-style. The allies are all separate at first, but gradually unite into a mega-party of Tooru, Akari, Chaika, Red Chaika, Niva Lada, David, Selma, Kiril and Ursula (the two scorned demi-human guards). It’s like a big party on the secret island with past enmities being put aside so they can all focus on their common goal: surviving.

chai256

But as ineffectual as the mass-produced Fayla and demi-human troops are, there’s still a crapton of them, and the group starts to get fatigued from fighting off wave after wave of them. That’s where we’re force to introduce another Star Wars similie. All the beasts they’re fighting are being controlled form one central location: a tower that is essentially a giant Gundo. Take out the tower, and the droid Fayla army will shut down.

chai257

When Chaika’s own Gundo can’t penetrate the tower’s defensive magic, Niva Lada assesses the situation and reveals her true form: a gigantic, awesome-looking uber-Gundo that blasts the lame villain to smithereens. Obviously, Izhmash was not prepared for this level of resistance…which explains why the island was concealed from the outside world by magic!

chai258

One thing I didn’t like: when asked about what will become of all the freed Fayla and demi-humans, Kiril just says they’ll eventually just die. Why can’t the beasts just live out peaceful lives on the island, no longer chained by the big Gundo tower? Well, because they were born and bred to be hunters and killers, and I guess they’re not capable of evolving beyond that narrow purpose.

chai259

Chaika, on the other hand, is, even if she’s confused and doesn’t know what to do next. In this, she and Red Chaika differ: Red (at least outwardly) refuses to believe Izhmash’s lies; but even if he was telling her his truth, that truth is worthless to her; she’ll find her own truth. She’ll determine her own purpose. And so must our Chaika. Like Red, she’s not alone, and has friends (and a powerful new weapon in Niva) that give her far more options than base Fayla.

8_mag

Eureka Seven AO – 23

Fleur fights Naru while Elena fights Truth, but Naru easily evades them all and escapes with Truth, citing even Ao’s Nirvash has no archetype and isn’t alive. Ao and Harlequin catch up to Truth and Naru at the Okinawa Plant Coral, where Truth backstabs Naru and grabs the Quartz Gun and fires it. Ao opens his eyes to another rewritten history where Truth never existed and he just destroyed the Allied forces stole the coral relic IFO, saving the world. Renton emerges from the portal and confronts Ao, who gets news that Eureka has appeared on the Triton. Renton and Ao hurry there, where the family is briefly reunited.

It’s been such a good Fall season, we’d put Eureka Seven AO completely out of our minds, so the arrival of the final two episodes was a shock, but a pleasant one. The penultimate episode wastes no time jumping back into the action after leaving us hanging…somewhere, somewhen with Renton nearly two months ago. The battle between Ao and Truth is ultimately resolved when Truth essentially commits suicide. He is convinced the current world’s history isn’t correct and he shouldn’t exist, at least in his current form. Thus the Quartz Gun is fired for the second time, causing another vast, complicated explosion, and causing history to change once more.

What’s cool is that Ao isn’t the only one who notices. Two short scenes between Gazelle and Nakamura efficiently show us they noticed too, and even though Okinawa is part of Japan again Nakamura still isn’t happy with how small Japan remains. It’s this timeline where Renton chooses to travel in order to meet with Eureka in her Nirvash…only Ao’s in it, and Eureka is some kind of “ghost”, wandering time, without physical form and unable to stay anytime for long. Could she be Ao’s Neo-Nirvash’s archetype Naru said was missing? What “choice” led to Eureka becoming like this? Where does Renton fit into all this? We’ll find out…later tonight.


Rating: 9 (Superior)

Eureka Seven AO – 22 (Fin; ’till late autumn)

Ao, Elena and Maggie face off against Truth, but he’s capable of creating a trapar storm that disorients Ao, who crashes into a scub coral. He comes out in Iwato, brought there by Naru, who serves him rice and tries to convince him not to fight Truth, who like him, is merely a child of two races. However, his mind is made up, telling her neither of them have changed. Pied Piper, Harlequin, and the Secret allies take Truth on, but can’t make a dent in him. Ao and Naru arrive, and Ao rushes at Truth. Flash forward to a ruined New York City in the year 12021. An adult Renton Thurston witnesses a Seven Swell and flies into it with his Nirvash, hoping to find Eureka and “bring everything to an end.”

We’re not going to mince words like we always do, and just curse instead: that was a fucking awesome episode. It soared with big happenings, big battles, big explosions, big revelations and one hell of a cut to a finish that brought friggin’ Renton back as a hardened, obsessed man on a mission – apparently jumping from time to time and world to world seeking Eureka. He’s a pretty snappy dresser and owner of some strategically graying hair to boot! And unlike the rather pointless momentary cameos of Claus and Lavie in Exile no Fam, he looks primed to play a crucial role in the finale, which apparently isn’t coming until late autumn. That…caught us a little by surprise, though we should have known that was going to be the case, considering the two week hiatus it took earlier in the season. Gotta milk it for all it’s worth, right?

But seriously, enough can’t be said about how much awesomesauce they crammed into this episode – and how it broke down a lot of previous assumptions and replaced them with new ones. Turns out, Naru’s alien ears are fakes, she’s not romantically into Truth (much to Ao’s relief), and is deeply insulted when Ao tries to refer to her as a big sis figure. But Naru’s theory about coral carriers being blessed is getting trashed by Truth’s evil rays, which cause fatal breakouts in anyone affected. Basically, this guy is just a pure force of nature now, who doesn’t want to reason, which makes it seem like a coral/human hybrid like Ao can exist in human society but a coral/secret hybrid like Truth can’t. Unless he’s just a dick…


Rating: 10 (Masterpiece)

RABUJOI World Heritage List

Eureka Seven AO – 21

Fleur, now president of Pied Piper, meets with the Japanese Diet to formalize a relationship, while Ao patrols territorial waters, turning away the Allied forces with the help of Secrets. On an Allied airbase on Guam, Elena meets Maggie and learns that adults infected with coral can fly IFOs. While in the cockpit of Elena’s prototype, Maggie gets flashes of her other life in Goldilocks. Eureka appears before her and Elena, telling Elena she can’t send her back. Maggie investigates and learns Elena wasn’t born on another world. A scub burst occurs in Indonesia; Elena confronts Ao as he emerges with the Quartz. He talks her down and asks her to come back. Truth appears and starts wreaking havoc.

Fleur and Elena both “like” Ao, but in very different ways. Fleur’s is a fairly conventional bond formed by mutual struggles, parallels in their pasts, and an ongoing mutual crush. Elena’s friendship is complicated by her feelings towards Eureka – feelings of hate and resentment. Elena is particularly fun to watch this week, as she’s excited about her her surroundings and the promise of returning home soon, while overlaying anime traits over her situation. It’s cute, but as we learn later, it’s also a little sad…and dangerous. When Maggie learns the truth about Elena, Elena doesn’t want to hear it, because it’s boring. She had this grand, fantastical idea of where she came from and where her destiny is (no doubt a fantasy fueled by her otakuism). The world she’s living in doesn’t feel quiet right, and never has. So it makes sense that she wouldn’t be too receptive of the idea that it’s her world.

Ao mitigates the sting of this somewhat by giving her a good smack (to her IFO, not her face) and delivering a heartfelt declaration of affection for her and an inteniton for them (and Fleur) to stick together always! It’s a very anime-like presentation that appeals to Elena, spicing up the otherwise dull proceedings. But this isn’t just about Elena: Nakamura has resigned, yet still vows to return Japan to greatness; Haru is home (in a hilarious breakfast scene) and stirring up resentment for the coral’s use as a weapon; Maggie sees her other life for the first time; Fleur trades in her flight pajamas for a smart pantsuit; and then there’s the wild card, Truth: who just wants to SHOOT and DESTROY. A little of everything this week, but all nicely juggled; we were never lost.


Rating: 9 (Superior)

Eureka Seven AO – 20

After the fusion explosion, Gazelle fetches Fleur and Ao, who still has an instance of Georg on his phone that they can restart the Triton with. Ao takes the Nirvash into the bowels of HQ and finds the Quartz Gun, which triggers a massive burst of Quartz that he then neutralizes. Allied forces led by Tanaka destroy the HQ after civilians evacuate. Hanna and Harlequin’s survivors arrive and side with the Allied forces. Elena also defects to Tanaka, taking one of the goldilocks prototypes with her. Truth emerges from the HQ’s wreckage and attacks the allies. The Japanese government grants Pied Piper access to their bases and supplies in order to fulfill their end of a contract struck between them, the Secrets, and Blanc, with the goal of eliminating the last of the Quartz. A recording of Christophe details the contract and names Fleur the new president of Generation Bleu.

Sorry for the longish synopsis…a lot happened this week. Pieces are moving all over the board, and while Christophe has been removed from that board, Hanna, Harlequin (minus 200 casualties) and especially Truth are back on it. Truth in particular makes a frightening return having been fused to a fearsome-looking machine called IFO-0 AKA “Cannon” that looks to be a loose one and big trouble down the line. Even Maggie Kwan – not a Goldilocks member in this dimension – gets some time as an arrogant allied pilot. And the running theme of the week is “what is right and what is wrong”, only everyone’s too busy choosing one side for the time being to really mull over it for very long.

Ao, for one, isn’t willing to hand over the Quartz gun. Japan have chosen the Secrets as their saviors and vow to destroy who they deem the enemy: the Quartz within Scub Coral. With their HQ destroyed and enemies everywhere, Ivica can’t be picky about where he sets the Triton down, so Japan it is. Elena…well, she’s looking out for Elena, having gotten an answer from Ao regarding helping her (“no”, at least for now). And Fleur…poor Fleur lost her dad. She hated him for so long, but breaks down when she hears his voice and sees him on video, bequeathing his company to her. Ao is the shoulder she can cry on; these two are going through a lot together, aren’t they?


Rating: 8
(Great)

P.S. The Allied Forces’ Fortress-type IFOs resemble the flying robot guardians of Laputa in Castle in the Sky. Coincidence?


Car Cameo:
Nakamura is sulking in a Toyota Century towards the episode’s end.

Eureka Seven AO – 19

Tanaka and the allied forces launch an attack on Gen Bleu HQ, which experiences a blackout when Big Blue World cuts them off. Truth talks telepathically with the Big Secret Head, but doesn’t like what he hears. Naru tells Truth that the masive scub bust on Okinawa ten years ago bore him into the world, a secret who lost his quartz and thus his memory, in human form. He flies into space and manipulates satellites into destroying Poseidon Base.

As allied forces descend on Gen Bleu HQ, including Maggie Kwan, Elena tells Ao and Fleur she’s from another world and wants Ao to take her home. Truth takes the form of Christophe Blanc, but Fleur sees through it and shoots him. Her real dad gives her and Ao a chance to escape, closes himself in the basement chamber, and detonates the quartz within in hopes of incapacitating Truth.

Which world is the right world? Who is the true enemy, the Scub Coral or the Secrets? Who is leading whom, Naru or Truth? These are just a few of the many questions brought up and explored as the shit hits the fan hard at Generation Bleu HQ. We had a feeling the company had a tough road to follow, but we didn’t expect its absolute obliteration. Their space station is destroyed before the commercial break, for crying out loud! This is a big, loud, dramatic powerhouse of an episode that doesn’t hold back for a minute. Things move incredibly fast, but the characters aren’t simply swept up as pawns in the plot, but shine though and have lots of great moments. We found ourselves fully engaged in every single plot thread in play this week, because every one dealt with a revelation.

Elena’s reaction to her download being cancelled (very meta) and her hilariously-creepy Evangelion-referring sight gag belie a very serious and fatigued girl who’s sick of living in this crazy, messed-up world. Fleur’s love and trust in her father prove decisive to her survival, and she has the strength to shoot whom she suspects to be Truth. Truth has never been better, less bwahaha-y and more vulnerable and confused. Christophe, seemingly out of options, goes out with a bang. He’s left the stage to Ao, Fleur, and Elena – youth – hoping they’ll determine the answers to all those questions, free of the regrets and prejudices adults like him must bear. We were royally blown away by the events of this episode, and are extremely excited to see what comes next.


Rating: 10 (Masterpiece)

Eureka Seven AO – 13

A pregnant Eureka arrives on earth, and she and Ao hole up in the Gekko-go awaiting rescue. Nakamura calls upon Colonel Endo, whose life Eureka saved 10 years ago, to join him as the Japanese navy heads to the Gekko-go; the Okinawans are also en route. When Ivica arrives and Eureka doesn’t recognize him, he realizes she’s come from thirteen years in the past, when she was still carrying Ao. Endo arrives to take Eureka into custody, but Truth stops him and claims her for himself. Both Ao and Eureka board their Nirvashes to fight him.

I tellya, Eureka can’t be in a dimension for ten minutes before nations converge on her. The girl from the first series who would become Ao’s mom, is a mysterious and intriguing twist on an already interesting series. We don’t mind her showing up, especially under such strange circumstances: it seems she’s a time traveller. The fact that she’s carrying Ao…while talking to the thirteen-year-old version of him – is just bizzare, but we like it. It doesn’t matter where or when she is; Eureka is compelled to protect her son and the world he lives on…from the likes of Truth.

As for Truth…we’re not quite sure why he allied himself with the Japanese forces, when he can go wherevrr or do whatever or be whoever he wants. But we do understand why he wants Eureka…kind of. Eureka’s special, no matter what dimension she’s in. She’s also powerful. Whatever Truth is after, he may be able to get it faster with Eureka’s power at his disposal. Naturally, Ao is having none of this, and neither is she; they’re not going down without a fight.


Rating: 7
 (Very Good)

Eureka Seven AO – 09

In Japan’s capital Nagoya, army officer Nakamura argues in vain with the defense ministry on developing an artificial plant coral with which to reassurt Japan’s strength. He carries out the plan anyway, and Gen Bleu dispatches Pied Piper to retrieve the quartz at the core of the coral under Tokyo Bay. When the coral forms, a secret emerges. Ao diverts to deal with it while Fleur and Elena head for the coral. They learn the quartz is not whole, but the collected shards of the one that destroyed Tokyo 70 years ago. The secret and the water pressure damage Nirvash, but Ao is saved by Fleur and then Elena. He opens their trapar tanks to lure the secret to its destruction, and when the Nirvash runs out of fuel and is about to implode, Fleur and Elena carry him to the surface. Back on dry land, Gazelle & Co. discover Truth was behind everything. Truth lures Nakamura to his cause.

This week was another rousing and thoroughly entertaining episode with a little bit of everything, including Truth, who as it happens, is not so bad in small doses. We’re not even that concerned with learning more about him. He wants to destroy the world; we’ll leave it at that. This episode also features Fleur and Elena in surprisingly traditional bathing suits teasing Ao (go swim with them, dweeb…the sloth is!); a trip to Japan to maintain the balance of power (which no longer has a Tokyo…or an Okinawa, obviously); some cool, sleek submarine combat, and some really bad van driving from Gazelle (seriously, they’re lucky to have survived that crash…)

The underwater scenes had a nice sense of claustrophobia and suspence, especially when Ao strikes out on his own. About that: he’s never going to see eye-to-eye with Gen Bleu. They may need him to pilot Nirvash, but even if their missions put other considerations before peoples’ safety, Ao never will: he’s going after that secret before it hurts anyone. He gets a pass this week, since there was no quartz per se to retrieve and his insubordination has no ill effects, but there may come a time when Gen Bleu wants him to do something he really doesn’t feel right about doing. Of the three pilots, I’d bet Elena is the only one with no qualms about following orders. The other two have chips on their shoulders, so we’ll see.


Rating: 7
 (Very Good)


Car Cameos:
 Nakamura travels around in a Toyota Harrier (AKA Lexus RX), while Gazelle & Co. ride in a Mitsubishi Delica Space Gear.

Eureka Seven AO – 07

Without warning or declaration of hosilities, Truth singlehandedly wrecks havoc upon Generation Bleu, easily breaching security forces and eventually entering the hangar bay. Ao launches Nirvash with Truth clinging to it, and he unleashes a huge monster. Scenes unfold back on Iwate island, where a trapar factory is being built on the site of the scub coral. Naru approaches the coral and is met by Ao (actually Truth in disguise). He shows her she doesn’t need her inhaler, and she can fly if she wants to. The real Ao shows up and chases Truth, but Naru makes him stop and flies off with Truth, her “sea giant”. Ao wakes up in the hospital next to Fleur and Elena, but they show him a news report of Naru’s abduction.

What do Nazo no Kanojo X, Sakamichi no Apollon, Hyouka, Natsuiro Kiseki, Jormungand, and Sankarea all have in common? They’ve all had at least one episode we’ve seen fit to award a “9” or “Superior” rating. Eureka Seven AO has yet to accomplish that feat, despite being a remarkably consistent, entertaining and well-made series. This week is no exception. While imbued with exciting action, a rousing siege situation at Gen Bleu HQ, and some very strange psychological dream sequences, we found ourselves a bit lost throughout the episode. It’s not impossible to enjoy a story that leaves us in the dark, but in this case, the intrigue was overshadowed by our frustration. In short: we wanted the episode to throw us a bone, and it refused to do so.

Chalk up a lot of our frustration to this “Truth” fellow. After a quick and rather random introduction last week, this week he goes right at the heart of Gen Bleu’s strength, in search of “truth”, which is also his preferred name for himself. He goes after Ao at first, apparently knowing his mother Eureka, but when he sees Ao isn’t going to play ball with him, he goes after Ao’s friend Naru. Hardly anything Truth says makes any sense; he’s trying way too hard to be cryptic and mysterious, and his motives strike us as just as perplexing. His plan changes in the middle of the episode, and we’re suddenly back in Ao’s hometown. Super-omnipotent god-like beings are often tricky because there are so many directions you can take them, and their potential can be overwhelming. That was the case this week; the episode lost us and didn’t bother explaining anything.


Rating: 5 (Average)

Un-Go – 11 (Fin)

Everyone is invited back to the damaged TV studio and given weapons. But Shinjurou insists everyone stay calm as he works through the mystery. Kaishou reveals himself after a staged gunfight, but Shinjurou exposes him as a double created by Bettenou. He names Hayami as the culprit, working with Kuramitsu to eliminate the threat of Kaishou, and in Hayami’s case, to be acknowledged by Izumi. Inga chases down and devours Bettenou, who is not a true god. Even with this mystery solved, Shinjurou still has questions for Rinroku. He finally sits down with Rie and tells her about how a woman who became Inga saved his life.

Kudos to Bones for giving this relatively brief 11-episode series a stirring, mind-twisting send-off. We enjoyed every episode thoroughly, and as a result has earned the highest rating of the Fall shows (not including Penguindrum). We’re not sure if this final mystery was our very favorite (the Kazamori arc was awfully good), but it can claim the most twists and turns, and put Bettenou’s reality-warping powers to more clever, subtler use than her introduction. Our experience watching taught us to suspect the characters who either appear the most innocent or the most underused, and the revelation of Hayami and Kuramitsu as the culprits proved us correct.

The overarching theme of this mystery, and perhaps all those before it, is that we are driven by those we perceive to be gods, whether they truly are or not. Hayami’s God was Izumi’s acceptance; Kuramitsu’s was the power of the government; Inga’s was Bettenou; Rinroku’s was the dream of a world without borders. And Shinjurou? The Truth is his god. For him, it isn’t enough for him to better himself. He wants to expose everyone’s souls until that final truth is uncovered. It may only be another impossible goal, but working towards it gives his existence purpose, while repaying the woman who saved his life and became Inga.


Rating: 4

Un-Go – 10

A hearing is held, run by Diet Member Kuramitsu, to investigate the studio bombing. Rinroku and Rie attend via sattelite, and Shinjurou is among those questioning him. He harbors a consistent suspicion that he’s hiding something, and that he’s using Bettenou to bend reality. Bettenou is at work, but her loyalties are ambiguous. She does have contact with Inga, who has grown distant from Shinjurou and extracts vital state secrets from Izumi. Upon being discharged from hospital, Rinroku’s van explodes with him and his bodyguard Mizuno inside, but Shinjurou is convinced he faked his death. The truth continues to elude him.

This was a tough episode to follow, but by gum were we entertained. It frankly blew our minds with possibilities. As Rinroku says, there are as many truths as there are people. Indeed, every day, every moment we cultivate our own truths, which may change from one moment to the next. Those like Shinjurou live to find the truth, something infinitely elusive, and even though they may even know what he seeks is an impossibility, he still tries. No matter how much he uncovers, there’s always more. No single human lifetime is long enough; the search for truth is eternal.

Is truth an enemy? A foe to be defeated? Why is it he knows Bettenou is at work in the proceedings that surround him, but no one else does, save Rinroku? Throughout this episode, we were fed a lot of information, but like the Defeated Detective, we feel like we haven’t crafted a satisfactory explanation for wtf is going on. Things are getting very weird; abstract; conceptual. The episode where the author trapped Shinjurou in a fantasy world was only the warm-up; the real mind gymnastics begin here- and next week, end. This is one 11-episode series we wish wasn’t ending.


Rating: 4