Sousei no Onmyouji – 11

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I’m enjoying the bold, colorful aethetic of this show. I’m enjoying the galaxy of crazy expressions being doled out by both Rokruo and Benio on a regular basis. And I’m definitely enjoying ridiculously scenarios in which Benio causes a self-upskirt by sucking at embroidery as much as Rokuro and sewing her hoop into her dress. That’s some creative flashing right there!

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Sure, this wasn’t the most serious episode, but it still had serious undertones, and the notion that Subaru isn’t going to train them the way they expected, and that inability to expect what she’ll say or do next is actually part of their training.

Most of the episode is a game of hide-and-seek, with Subaru using magic, but it isn’t an unwinnable challenge: Roku and Beni simply need to hunker down, focus, and discover the clues that will lead them to Subaru.

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Granted, Benio isn’t very practical about looking for Subaru at first, and ends up looking everywhere, including the fridge and Rokuro’s porn stash, but what’s so great about these two is that there’s a good give-and-take; push-and-pull dynamic. Benio isn’t always on Rokuro’s case or vice versa; that would be boring. Instead, both are sometimes on each others’ cases.

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The rest of the time, they’re downright normal and decent with each other, which is typically when they’re not overthinking their interactions. Rokuro praises Benio’s good guess about Subaru’s dieting, and Benio likes it. But When Rokuro goes further in trying to read her mind by guessing she wants to eat ohagi (which is probably correct, by the way), she gets cross and tries to step on his foot.

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They’re right back on the same side when they end up in Magano, and in a boss fight with a giant octopus Kegare that’s obviously been set up by Subaru. Their initial separate attacks have no effect, and when it’s Octy’s turn he unleashes a giant cloud of miasma that amounts to a “darkness” spell.

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No matter; Rokuro and Benio realize the only way they’re getting out of this is by intuiting what each other will do and when. Benio guesses that Roku will move first (not a stretch there), while Roku knows Benio will back him up.

They lay some serious slashes on the octopus, and to their and MY surprise, its dispersal isn’t prefaced by a giant pentagram. Instead, it explodes in a cloud of tiny fans, indicating it was not a Kegare at all, but a familiar cooked up by Subaru. That was a neat little “switching-up” moment that capitalized on the patterns we’d come to expect from Magano battles.

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Subaru congratulates the couple for thinking outside the box and trusting in one another. Even though her training was unorthodox to say the least, when she departs, neither Rokuro nor Benio can deny that they learned a lot. Unfortunately for Rokuro, one of the things Benio learns is the location of the rest of his girly mags!

The episode ends with a reveal of anothe rpotential antagonist, but I was far more bowled over by Tatara’s navigation face, making up for the fact that Subaru’s Talbot-Lago has no SatNav. That’s just a really neat little detail in a brisk, boisterous, cheeky, and very entertaining episode.

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Sousei no Onmyouji – 10

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Remember English Tea Lady? Turns out she’s not English, and her name is Mitejima Subaru. Benio’s former master shows up unannounced and the Twin Star Exorcists wastes no time asking her to train them (since Seigen’s too busy). I for one was glad to hear Sawashiro Miyuki, and her sidekick Tatara was pretty funny with his bread crusts and emoticon face veil.

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Subaru agrees to train them…almost too easily, and we learn why pretty fast: they never stipulated HOW she should train them to become stronger, so she institutes her own regimen, one based on getting the “newlyweds” closer, from dressing them up in sharp threads to challenging Rokuro to properly compliment Benio (which he can’t).

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Subaru pulls up dangerously in her stunning Talbot-Lago to check on the non-lovebirds’ progress (or lack thereof), and before long even Benio’s blind faith that her master knows what she’s doing erodes, once she remembers Subaru mostly talked about how awful most men are, and how to defend against them. That being said, the romantic tension between Roku and Beni is wonderfully palpable, even with something as “easy” as holding hands.

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Things escalate from hand-holding to heart-pancake-feeding to flat out kissing, and Rokuro taps out, with a disillusioned Benio joining him in withdrawing from Subaru’s “training” for the day. These two just don’t do well when being forced, but their chemistry is such that they can coexist just fine on their own. Rokuro gets Benio some ohagi (on Arima’s dime), and Benio offers him one (of hundreds). Roku also seems genuinely charmed by Benio while she’s blissfully gorging.

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Naturally, some Kegare have to show up, and the effects of Rokuro’s encounter with Yuto means his gauntlet is still… a bit unruly. But rather than ignore it and fight on her own, Benio spends a good deal of her mana in order to calm his right arm.

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But because she’s so spent from the effort, Rokuro has to face the huge horde of Kegare on his own while protecting her, which means, without thinking, he draws her close and holds her. Still, things look grim, but just as naturally as Kegare always show up on SnO, someone shows up to bail out the original combatants.

This time Roku and Beni are the rescuees and Subaru showing off her impressive arsenal of spiritual firearms, a shtick that owes much to Mami from Puella Magi Madoka Magica (much like Magano’s aesthetic). “Scatter, Endless Rhapsody – Disperse beautifully” are some pretty slick callouts!

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So, lesson learned: Rokuro and Benio are closer than they normally think, depsite being standoffish towards each other most of the time, when shit hits the fan they come together, and the closer they get, the stronger they’ll become, together.

And since Arima also sent Subaru in order to help get the couple’s romance flowing a little better, they’ll be stuck in her “training sessions” – including the intriguing “nighttime marital activities” department – for the foreseeable future.

That’s fine by me; I love watching the two squirm and blush as much as I love watching them kick Kegare ass. But most of all, I like it when they simply get along; not sniping, but just enjoying each other’s company.

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Sousei no Onmyouji – 09

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At the end of last week, Rokuro and Benio’s slowly burgeoning friendship looked to be in absolute tatters with the news that Rokuro indeed killed everyone at Hinatsuki Dorm, including her twin brother Ijika Yuto.

It seems like the only thing that can turn things around is if Yuto were to suddenly show up, not only not dead, but so frikking evil that Benio would be left wondering how the hell she ever cared for him in the first place.

Well…that’s pretty much exactly what happens! Though I’m sure why Yuto is showing up right here and now just as Seigen is in the middle of a story that was painting Rokuro in such a bad light, only to go “that’s not the whole story!”…except to put poor Benio through the emotional wringer.

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And speaking of emotional wringers, Rokuro certainly went through one two years ago. The night of the Hinatsuki massacre, when Yuto shows his true colors and turns all his fellow trainee exorcists into Kegare, is straight out of a horror film, complete with drab palette and grisly deaths of cute girls.

Frankly, I don’t see what Rokuro could have done in this situation. As Seigen states with certainty, the only thing for a person who’s been corrupted by Kegare is to give them a quick death before they can commit any atrocities that further mar your memory of them.

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Yuto speaks of these times with such detachment and nonchalance, grinning his stupid evil grin the whole time, to the point that Rokuro simply can’t take anymore, arms up, and starts attacking him.

A stunned Benio looks on but sees that Rokuro is only doing damage to himself (Yuto, who has a blue gauntlet to Roku’s red, parries every strike with the flick of a finger), so she stops the fight, taking a hit that Rokuro can’t hold back in time.

Then Yuto…kinda calls it a day and fucks off, hoping Rokuro will “entertain” him better next time.

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When Rokuro and Benio emerge from Magano and Seigen takes Mayura home, Benio can’t think to do anything but prostrate herself before Rokuro and ask that he forgive her for all of the pain and grief and trauma her brother caused.

Rokuro is stunned by this sight, and repeatedly tells Benio to raise her head; they were both hoodwinked by the little blue-haired bastard, all their lives, and if anything, they share the blame for being ignorant to the evil within him.

Still, I think they’re being a bit hard on themselves. These two strike me as too young to feel responsible for what happened years ago when they were still younger and less attuned to the world, let alone their own selves.

I liked their commitment to becoming stronger together at the end, but Yuto is a brutally dull and tired manic villain archetype, and a great deal of the episode was merely exposition and reaction shots.

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Sousei no Onmyouji – 08

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As expected, Mayura confronts Rokuro and Benio over their sudden change in living arrangements. What I didn’t expect is that the episode didn’t go for goofy comedy in the sparring between the girls. Instead, they represent two different philosophies of life.

Mayura thinks Rokuro’s suffered enough already; Benio respects his abilities and believes he’s obligated to use them, and Rokuro, when pressed, sides with Benio, believing the benefits of being an exorcist outweighs any personal costs.

While Mayura rushes out, believing she’s been rejected all over again, the reality is both she and Benio make good points.

As for Rokuro failing to notice her feelings, well girl, that’s because you have to tell him, in no uncertain terms, about those feelings, while he has your undivided attention. Mayura should know this having spent most of her life by Rokuro’s side.

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While storming out, however, Mayura leaves her good luck charm behind, which is actually a legit charm that hides her spiritual power from hungry Kegare. Considering how important it is, I can’t imagine how she could have misplaced it so easily, unless she’s unaware of how important it is to her safety.

In any case, she gets captured and yes, tentacled, by a nasty little Kegare that becomes a nasty BIG Kegare, chortling the whole time. Of course, I never thought for a second Mayura was going to buy it (as gutsy a move as that would’ve been), and right on cue Rokuro swoops in to save her, then swears to protect her no matter what.

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Losing Mayura would have been a brutal blow to a kid who’s already received a few, but we simply didn’t know the extent of the trauma in his past…until this week, when his former master (and Mayura’s Dad!) Seigen appears to clean up Rokuro’s mess, run him down a bit, and challenge him to a duel in which he must exhibit intent to kill; a tall order for someone who’s still getting back on his exorcist feet.

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We cut away from the reunion of master and student in Magano numerous times to check in with the guys at the dorm, who prove far more useful at asking questions that lead to extensive (but unfortunately inartful) info-dumping by Jissama (Seigen’s father-in-law).

The final third of the episode suffers from being bogged down in all this exposition, but things do pay off a bit at the end, if you were someone who wanted a fresh wedge between Rokuro and Benio (for the record, I’m not that someone).

Benio learns the tragedy that killed numerous promising students at the Hinatsuki dorm was not the result of a Kegare attack, but the result of Rokuro killing them, the victim of something called “Kegare corruption.”

Since Benio’s whole reason for being is to destroy the Kegare who took away her family, learning Rokuro is to blame for the tragedy, this is definitely an, er…setback for the future parents of the Miko.

Of course, the jury’s still out about whether Rokuro chose to go berserk or if it was something outside his control—I’m guessing the latter—I’m still not convinced Benio’s twin brother is dead. Let the kid explain, Benio! Well, if he’s even willing or able to.

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Sousei no Onmyouji – 07

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This episode’s Arima-heavy early scenes (and why does every show need someone dressed like a proper English lady having tea?) were a little troublesome, but I liked the end result, as well as his very serious underlying goal: he wants to bring about the prophecy of the Miko; to do that, he needs to bring Rokuro and Benio together.

So this week, the two would-be lovebirds graduate from being two roommates in a dorm of many to two occupants of palatial villa, in order to grow closer to each other. Thus continues SnO’s emphasis on character over plot or action (though the short bit of action still packs a punch)—something I’m on board with, because I happen to like both leads.

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A big part of why I like them is that while they do spar a lot of the time, they also spend a fair amount of time not sparring. They also can suck it up and work together when they have to, and the floors of their two once-separate bedrooms literally turn on an incline and create a sidescroller-style physical challenge, the two know they need each other, and as they figure out how to overcome the various obstacles involved, they find themselves thinking alike more often than not.

A challenge that could have been sigh-worthy in less careful hands also adds to the enjoyment and complexity of their trial, as Benio just happens to be going commando today on account of her panties being in the wash. This means she has to be careful what happens with her skirt, and Rokuro has to be careful where he’s looking. But when he accidentally sees something, she doesn’t go berserk and beat the shit out of him. They simply deal with it, in a reasonable fashion.

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Indeed, Arima meant for this trial to bring the two closer together in several ways, and when they do, Rokuro and Benio are what you’d expect two kids to be: embarrassed, a little excited, but also respectful. Rokuro doesn’t try to sneak another look, and Benio doesn’t hold it against him when gravity causes him to fall on her.

Because they work together, they get out of the combined room without too much trouble, and when they face another trial in the air ducts in the form of a question involving numbers of hiragana and strokes, the two put their brains together again to come up with the correct answer.

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It’s a good job they do clear the trial as quickly as they do, because their “exorcist” pals need bailing out once again. Seriously, is there ever going to be an episode where these guys can handle a Kegare on their own? Until they do, I’m putting “exorcist” in quotes when referring to them.

Rokruo and Benio work together again to bring down the giant mantis-like beast, but Benio starts to panic when she realizes her hair tie is gone, one of the two her brother gave her. Rokuro stops her desperate search and takes her back to the villa, where he finds the tie in the air duct (and I noticed the glint when they fell out of it the first time, a neat little visual detail that went unexplained at the time).

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The day over, the two have their baths (ladies first, says Rokuro, but again, no funny business with peeping), and prepare to go their respective, once-again separate rooms to turn in. But before that, Rokuro asks about Benio’s brother. She wonders why, but the amount of importance she placed on her hair tie made him curious.

She sits down with him and talks about her beloved twin brother, from whom she was separated and believes to be dead—though I think we might have caught a glimpse of him a couple episodes back. Maybe if he reappears, he’ll be Benio’s version of Mayura?

Rokuro’s desire to learn more about Benio means he’s starting to care about her, just as Benio is starting to care about Rokuro when she tells him to make sure to brush his teeth, and assures him that even if he’s not the heir to a great family, his skills are remarkable…even if he’s usually “mostly useless.”

That last jab that leads to bickering at the end wasn’t all that necessary, but it’s clear she’s half-joking, and just giving Rokuro shit. If she didn’t like or care about him, she probably wouldn’t bother. As goofy and insufferable as Arima is, he may be on to something here.

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