KonoSuba 2 – 03

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KonoSuba calls back to its first season more this week, but for some reason it didn’t bother me as much, probably because it’s always a hoot to watch Kazuma and Megumin explosion training montages, and even more of a hoot to have Kazuma and Aqua tackle a dungeon, with no one but each other to bounce off of.

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The episode also doesn’t hesitate to remind us that Kazuma is a bit of a cad and a perv, considering the “rustling” going on when he and Aqua used to sleep in the stables. But with Darkness away (having seemingly but probably not unspeakable things done to her) and Megumin sitting out the dungeon (an accidental explosion could kill them all), the balance of the episode has a fleet, stripped-down feeling to it.

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Also, it manages to surprise by making this one of the times when Aqua is not only the most capable party member, but absolutely essential to clearing the dungeon. Whether undead are naturally drawn to her or not, one can’t deny she’s good at dispatching them, and with style to boot. I loved how a string of anti-undead spells were suddenly interrupted by an exuberant “Nature’s Beauty!” for good measure.

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Once they reach Keele, the former court wizard who has a whole story and after whom the dungeon is named, there’s a bittersweetness to the fact he became a lich to protect his love, and thanks to Aqua, can return to her through purification.

Kazuma is pleasantly surprised throughout the dungeon trek with Aqua’s staggering awesomeness, right up until he realizes the reason they’ve been chased around by undead all this time was because of her.

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Still, I maintain it was a good thing Aqua accompanied Kazuma. They got a bunch of loot, and Kazuma was reminded that Aqua isn’t always useless, and sometimes he is. Unfortunately, none of the gold they make goes towards their towering debts, because they instead end up buying the house however many rounds it takes to send Aqua into the alley to vomit the gold away.

As is so often the case, Kazuma & Co. can’t help but take two steps back for every step forward, at least as far as money goes. But that was still a damned entertaining dungeon trip.

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KonoSuba – 08

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Winter isn’t Coming, it’s already here, and Kauzma and Aqua are finding it impossible to continue living in a freezing cold stables. One wonders where Megumin and Darkness are living. Anyway, Kazuma decides the best way to make enough money to pay for warmer digs is to gain a new skill.

The person he asks for that new skill is a friendly lich named Wiz. Her introduction is initially a bit confusing, becaue Kazuma and Aqua seem to know her well, yet couldn’t recall who the heck she was. Turns out she’d never been introduced until now. Furthermore, they learn for the first time that she’s actually one of the eight generals of the Devil King’s army.

As such, she was a contemporary of the late Verdia, though quite amusingly she’s not choked up about his demise, considering he often tossed his head by her feet so he could look up her skirt. The Devil King needs a better HR person, ’cause that shit can get you sued. Also, due to her undead nature, Aqua constantly wants to eliminate her.

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Kazuma doesn’t let her, and gains a skill from Wiz that drains an opponent of magic and health. Then a happy coincidence occurs, as someone comes in Wiz’s shop needing a big haunted mansion exorcised. Kazuma and Aqua take the job, and Megumin and Darkness join them at the impressive and comfy-looking new place.

Of course, I assumed Kazuma and Aqua would end up right back in those freezing stables, huddling for warmth without regard for propriety. Because since when is a seemingly awesome mansion not have some huge problem with it that renders it utterly unlivable?

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Sure enough, even though Aqua seemingly does some exorcism work on the place, Kazuma is visited in the night by not one or two but hundreds of that good old cliche, creepy laughing dolls. He eventually finds Megumin in Aqua’s room, wanting to go to the bathroom with her.

Kazuma also has to go really bad, so the two have to deal with constantly being surrounded by creepy dolls and having to hold it in to the point of agony. Megumin even leaves her pants and pantsu behind in the ongoing chase.

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The cliched creepy dolls (and ludicrous number of owls!), along with the much more mundane need to pee really bad, made for a reasonably chuckleworthy combination of problems.

Though it’s all resolved pretty easily in the end, Kazuma forces Aqua to give back their “special reward” for eliminating all the new spirits that had taken up residence in the mansion, after he realizes it was her own magical barrier that kept the spirits from going where they wanted – the graveyard where they met Wiz.

All’s well that ends well, though, as the party finally has a respectable place to live, and Kazuma is a little closer to achieving the ideal “down-to-earth lifestyle” he desired. Adventuring will surely be more rewarding now that he’s not risking hypothermia every night!

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KonoSuba – 06

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This week lampoons the “Epic Boss Rematch” common to fantasy anime, inverting it in numerous, hilarious ways. First, the Dullahan Verdia has to come to town to confront Team Kazuma and complain about how they haven’t come to his castle yet.

Unbeknownst to Kazuma, Megumin has continued her bombardment of that castle, while Aqua assisted by carrying her home each day. You didn’t think she stopped blowing the joint up just because she didn’t appear on camera doing so, did ya?

Verdia then attempts to look down on the party (having formerly been a noble knight) for not avenging their fallen comrade, only to see Darkness is alive and well and appreciates his praise. It’s only when a fed-up Verdia threatens to slaughter the town that Aqua switches from mocking mode to attack mode.

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Her impressive Holy-based magic proves painful against Verdia, but doesn’t have the effect she intended (utter decimation). Now that she’s shown she’s not the magic novice he assumed, the gloves come off as he summons an undead army to, well, chase Aqua, then Aqua and Kazuma around.

Kazuma gets the idea to lead the army and Verdia into a trap with Aqua so that Megumin can blast them – and she does blast them, creating a giant crater in the earth – but while Megumin is out for the count, her efforts only made Verdia even madder.

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When other adventurers attack him, he uses more of his own magic to apparently kill them, and for a few moments, the show almost seems to enter serious territory, as Darkness is visibly horrified by this turn of events. It’s her turn to take on Verdia, to avenge those dead men, so she leaps into action.

Only problem is, as awesome as she appears as she’s fighting him, her “finishing blow” completely misses, turning her pink with embarrassment. Even so, she wields an effective weapon against Verdia: her ability to weird him out with her masochistic ranting. This is a chaotic party that can keep any foe off balance enough for one of them to discover a weakness, which Kazuma does…and it’s water.

The whole town starts firing water spells at Verdia, turning the battle into a kind of aquatic dodgeball. Amusingly, Aqua wasn’t paying attention this whole time, and when Kazuma insults her, she makes the prevailing issue herself rather than the battle at hand.

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When she finally unleashes her high-level water spell on Verdia, she exhibits the same profound lack of subtlety that is Megumin’s specialty, only with water instead of fire. A vast column of the wet stuff comes crashing down on Verdia, dousing him but also wrecking the city walls. Oops.

Greatly weakened by the torrent, Kazuma is able to steal Verdia’s head, and Aqua finishes him off with Holy magic. Victory is theirs! But Darkness knows that victory came at a cost: she reminisces on her interactions with the three fighters who Verdia killed (another funny send-up of an activity common to the genre), only to turn around to find them alive and well, thanks to Aqua’s resurrection magic, leaving her with egg on her face.

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After a job – well, not well done, but done, the party celebrates at the guild hall (with Aqua getting toasted pretty quickly). Kazuma, to his surprise, his praised by everyone in the hall for his party’s deeds, and they’re awarded a cool 300 million Eris for taking out a General of the Devil King.

With this new fortune, Kazuma announces he’s going to retire and live a simple, quiet life henceforth, abandoning his plans to defeat the Devil King himself. This disappoints his three party-mates, but he doesn’t care. But when the guild official comes back with the bill for all the damage Aqua’s flood did to the city, they end up 40 million Eris in the hole, and Kazuma ends up having to cancel his retirement before he was even finished announcing it.

It’s the very end, when Kazuma laments the possibility of spending the rest of his life fighting battles with this inept party that will often cost more than they’ll make them in profit, that rings a bit false. This life looks like a shitload of fun, with minimal risk. I know Kazuma and I are different personalities, but I don’t see why he’s in such a hurry to leave this world. Methinks he doth protest too much!

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OverLord – 13 (Fin)

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In a battle so epic it needed two parts, Momonga—sorry, Ains Ooal Gown—turns the tables for good. Having told Shalltear that everything has gone according to plan, he transforms into “Perfect Warrior”, the armor of Lord Touch Me, a former playmate. He then proceeds to summon superweapon after superweapon, so fast and unpredictably is the onslaught that Shalltear must abandon defense altogether and focus on offense, losing an arm in the process.

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But Shalltear wasted all her skills and most of her MP in the first half of the battle, when she thought the two participants were a lot more evenly matched. Turns out, Ains was simply lying to her, as well as failing to correct her incorrect assumptions about his weaknesses. The only weaknesses Ains had against Shalltear were dealt with in that first half, which is why he thanks her so profusely before Part Two begins.

Once a timer goes off, Ains dispenses altogether with the fiction that Shalltear had the slightest chance against him and casts “Fallen Down.” As she utterly disintegrates in the light of her overlord’s power, a smile marks Shalltear’s face. He was every bit as great as she thought, and then some. Of course she couldn’t win against him.

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The same reason Ains had all those cool weapons is the same reason he’s able to ultimately resurrect Shalltear, albeit, unexpectedly, without her ample bosom (something she laments once she notices). That reason is cold hard cash. I’ve played my fair share of RPGs long after the main quest is complete and amassed fortunes so large I could buy everything there was to buy, which is what Ains does. And while it costs a cool 500 million to resurrect Shalltear, it isn’t as if there was anything else for him to buy.

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It’s all too common for villains to simply disappear into oblivion, cursing the name of the hero who defeated them. OverLord is different. Not only is Ains not a hero but an antihero, but Shalltear isn’t a villain either; she was under mind control, which we learn was only partial, but it still did the trick in terms of having her rebel against Ains. And she comes right back, mostly the same as she was, and certainly just as in love with the adorable Ainsy-Winesy.

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With Shalltear returned to the fold and Nazarick back at full strength, Ains gets back to work, learning all there is to be learned about this new world he finds himself in. He’s awarded Orichalcum Plate, and plots to fortify Nazarick and discover the entities who tried to steal Shalltear’s Mind—we learn they’re from the Slane Theocracy, and they’re not done yet. We also learn that Brain Unglaus is still alive, as Stronoff finds him in an alley.

There’s no official indication at the end of this extended epilogue that there will be a second season OverLord, but I wouldn’t be surprised if there was, whether it’s in Winter or next Spring or Summer. There’s certainly plenty of material left to explore, lots of awesome one-sided battles to be fought (and perhaps some not so one-sided), and, of course, the central mystery of What Exactly Happened to the human MMORPG player inside Lord Ains. Though, at the same time, I’m kind of glad weren’t spoon-fed all the answers.

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OverLord – 12

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As it did so marvelously with the Clementine fight (which was nowhere near as technically challenging as this one), OverLord once again delivers with an extremely fun and satisfying payoff to all of the buildup surrounding Ains’ duel with Shalltear. The battle that took up most of this episode’s running time got my adrenaline pumping and didn’t let up, right up to the delicious ending.

And yet it still gave us some time to check in on Ains’ guardians back at Nazarick. Albedo admits she let Ains go based on emotion rather than logic—a decision she likely wouldn’t have made had Ains not altered her personality to love him deeply. Demiurge, who he didn’t alter, thinks they’re being derelict in their duty to protect the one remaining supreme being by fighting in his place, but Cocytus considers it blasphemy that Demiurge would question Lord Ains’ orders or question his ability to win.

The bottom line: No one is going to interfere in this fight. So, like us, they sit back and watch. And let me tell you: they’re treated to quite a show.

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When Ains confronts Shalltear once more, she’s still inert and unresponsive, allowing him to cast a variety of high-level buffs that will prove crucial in surviving her attacks as well as doling out his own. Here’s the full list of pre-battle spells:

  • Body of Effulgent Beryl
  • Fly
  • Bless of Magic Caster
  • Infinity Wall
  • Magic Ward, Holy
  • Life Essence
  • Greater Full Potential
  • Freedom
  • False Data, Life
  • See Through
  • Paranormal Intuition
  • Greater Resistance
  • Mantle of Chaos
  • Indomitability
  • Sensor Boost
  • Greater Luck
  • Magic Boost
  • Draconic Power
  • Greater Hardening
  • Heavenly Aura
  • Absorption
  • Penetrate Up
  • Greater Magic Shield
  • Mana Essence
  • Triplet Maximize Magic, Explode Mine
  • Triplet Magic, Greater Magic Seal
  • Triplet Maximize Boosted Magic, Magic Arrow

That’s a lot of buffs, but it’s exactly what one expects of such a high-level fight. And while there’s some fun to be had in having your way with lesser enemies, squaring off against an opponent that will actually put up a fight—an optional super-boss, for instance— is one of the unique joys of RPG play. Watching Ain buff himself took me back to my own preparation for Yiazmat, the strongest foe in FFXII who has 50,112,254 HP in fifty separate million-HP bars.

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That level of preparation amplifies the sense of occasion, and Ains’ internal monologue establishes that even he doesn’t know exactly how this is going to go down. Then the fight begins, and a red battle armor-donning Shalltear cuts loose, matching Ains blow for blow. He surprises her with a few traps and attacks (and bluffs about more, knowing he must preserve his MP), but she has a few skills he’s not aware of, which he’s never witnessed her using but which she assures him her creator Peroroncino built into her.

Most intriguing of all, there are moments when Shalltear realizes she has no idea why she’s even fighting her former master, but then whatever parameters were overwritten to make her rebel (or which activated after a timer went off) kick in, and she presses her attack.

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Reality, Lightning, Fire, Dark, Holy; elemental and non-elemental magic flies in both directions, with moves and counter-moves coming as quickly as the two combatants can call out the enchantments. Indeed, the one thing I think the battle could have benefitted from was more of an enchantment “shorthand”. Sure, it’s impressive that all Ains and Shally have to do to cast ridiculously powerful spells is say the name of that spell, but the lengthy English spell names are a double-edged sword, giving the spells weight but also slowing the casting pace.

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But who cares about long spell names, when we’re treated to Lord Ains conjures an effing Sharknado. (He calls it a “Shark Cyclone”, but still, pretty sweet). I also enjoyed the seemingly mono-directional stream of light-spears that suddenly change direction and hit Shalltear, surprising both her and us. The two just keep pulling out of their bags of tricks.

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But Ains is slowly draining his MP, and Shalltear knows it. Hoping to break the stalemate, she summons her trump card (but probably not her only one), an ethereal doppelganger, Einherjar, as well as her “household” of lesser beasts. Ein lunges at Ains while Shalltear kills her own beasts in order to heal herself. But Ains is ready, activating the skill “The Goal of All Life is Death”; a giant clock counts down, and when the hands reach twelve, both Einherjar and the household disappear, leaving Ains and Shalltear alone again in the midst of a sandy desert where the forest glade once stood.

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Their surroundings thus drastically transformed, the two combatants assess their present state. Both are nearly out of MP, and Shalltear is almost out of skills, but she has all of her HP, and she believes the battle is all but wrapped up. But it would seem Ains was coy even in his internal thoughts, as he expresses to Shally how grateful he is she went all out and fought him with everything she had to this point, believing draining his MP would be the key to defeating him.

But that’s not the case: by not fighting him cautiously, she allowed him to arrange an even larger plan beyond the battle plan executed thus far. And next week, it will be time to show her just how badly she miscalculated. I can’t wait.

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OverLord – 11

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Last week demonstrated just how dark and nasty Shalltear can be, but she was also neutralized by a mysterious force in a forest clearing, and the true nature of her condition was not elaborated on with great detail. In effect, we were as in the dark as Ains. This week, he works to shed some light on what exactly is going on.

He uses a God-level item to locate Shalltear, and then he’s summoned by the Adventurer’s Guild. He tells them the vampiress is someone he’s been hunting for years, and if he nabs her—and he’s pretty confident he will—he wants Orichalcum, none of this Mythril mess.

When other adventurers accompany Ains on the hunt, even though he warned them they’d definitely die if they did, he makes good on that warning by having Mare kill them. That’s some Ice Cold Ains.

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The expected confrontation with Shalltear comes surprisingly quick, and is surprisingly brief. The episode subverts expectations that Ains can undo what’s been done to Shalltear with an ultra-rare item which enables its wielder to make a wish, by having the ring reject his wish. Shalltear remains still and silent. It’s then, when Ain’s rare “super tier” magic item fails to work, that he decides to beat a hasty retreat to reassess his tactics. I like how the show doesn’t always make things laughably easy for the big lug.

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I also like how he was holding back, even with that wishing ring; he’s got loads more trump cards locked up in his fancy treasury, minded by a guard of his own creation: Pandora’s Actor. The shapeshifting sentinel initially appears as a supreme being like Ains: Albedo’s creator; which is a pretty great shock when it happens, for it momentarily confirms he’s not alone on this world, nor is he unchallengable in power.

However, it’s just Pandora’s Actor, whom Ains hasn’t seen in a while and, now that he’s older, realizes how goshdarn lame the fellow is, what with his saluting and German (though I agree his threads are pretty sweet). I appreciated this scene of relative levity despite the solemnity of the task before Ains; he’s been at this game so long, he’s literally no longer the young man he once was: a guy who made goofy characters like Pandora thinking they’re cool, or who saved up all summer for the Shooting Star ring.

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Things return to seriousness when Ains and Albedo travel deeper into the depths of the treasury, into a mausoleum where he raised statues for each of his former comrades before they retired from Yggdrasil. Albedo remarks on the fact he calls it a mausoleum, and wonders out loud if Ain’s Supreme bretheren are dead and gone. He says that’s not quite the case, but wonders to himself if it actually is. This isn’t a game anymore, after all.

Finally, after showing Albedo the sconce where he plans to raise a statue of himself, Albedo can’t take it anymore, and begs her great lord to stay in this world and rule over everyone—over her—forever. He then tells her, he’s come to collect enough world-level items to face off against Shalltear, knowing he’s probably the only one who can stand against her (a revision of my understanding that Albedo was the second-toughest of the Guardians, or maybe Ains is talking about Shalltear in her current state).

With her tears and determination, she eventually gets him to promise to come back from the fight, no matter what ends up happening. But the truth is, Ains is using this Shalltear dilemma as an opportunity to prove to himself he’s worthy of being the Overlord of Nazarick, or if he’s in over his bony little head.

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OverLord – 10

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News from Albedo that “Shalltear has revolted” was definitely a nice stab to end last week’s battle with Clementine and Khajit, and left me with a complex response. On the one hand, if it’s true that Shalltear revolted, it means this world is a lot more dangerous than had been apparent thus far.

But if Albedo was simply overreacting based on her latent dislike of and rivalry with the vampiress, it still speaks to a trend of internal court strife that started out playful and harmless but could spell big trouble, even for the Supreme Lord.

I’m pleased, then, that the actually answer to the question of what happened with Shalltear fell somewhere between those two possibilities, with qualities of both.

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I’m also pleased that OverLord’s quality of storytelling did not falter greatly just because Momonga was out of the picture for the vast majority of the episode. He’s a powerful, dominant presence both in the world and show, so his absence, while felt, was mitigated by giving us a closer look at Shalltear, including her downright frightening “attack” form.

Like Albedo and Narbarel, she looks about as far down as humans as one can, but goes further, looking upon them as food, or, at best, an entertaining “playmate.” But someone who considers humans even more as mere food and toys is the accompanying maid Solution, who is beautiful and seductive, but in reality is a shape-shifting slime monster whose boobs turn into a mouth that swallows a hapless dolt whole.

But interestingly, it’s not a total cakewalk for Shalltear & Co., at least not as much as it was for other Nazarickians thus far. Shalltear not only comes across the redhead to whom Momon gave a red potion (which she uses to save herself), but a well-coordinated force of NPCs manages to hold off a few of Shalltear’s attacks, and may or may not have taken temporary control of her mind.

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It’s that event, and its registry on the master screen, that causes Albedo to suspect a revolt. We can be reasonably clear she’s mistaken, however, and that the reality is more complicated; another mystery Momonga has to figure out with that big bony head of his. I appreciate the nuance of the situation, which is far more interesting than if Shalltear had suddenly decided to rebel against the lord she’s always loved (long before Momonga altered Albedo’s personality to love him), which would be way out of character.

And that’s also something the show keeps present in our own heads: the (anti-)heroes of Nazarick who serve Lord Ains Ooal Gown are the product and offspring of their creators, “supreme beings” like Ains who just happened to also be his friends (at least friends within the game, if not outside of it in the “real world”). As such, aside from his love hack of Albedo which was his doing, everyone who serves Momonga is acting in accordance with the parameters set by their creators, i.e. those friends of his.

So if it was Shalltear’s creator’s will that she revolt against Ains, so be it…but neither I nor Momonga are willing to concede that absent further information. For now, he simply has to find Shalltear…and hope whatever she has doesn’t spread to his other generals.

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OverLord – 09

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This was probably the best OverLord episode yet, not just due to the sheer shattering of expectations just like so many skeletal dragon bone shards, but also because of how goddamn FUN it was to watch. I was laughing out loud hard at the master-level pwnage going on this week. Even though I knew full well that as big as they talked, both Khaj and Clem were dead meat; I just wasn’t prepared for just how dead a meat they turned out to be.

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What’s so great about the pwnage is that by the end, we’re actually empathizing with the two human opponents, loathsome they may be. Clem is a superior  warrior, and I believe her when she says there are only a handful of humans alive who can hang with her in battle. She shows off her terrifying speed and strength by blasting at Momon numerous times, and is even able to smudge his armor.

But in the end, Clem is human, and Momon isn’t—he may as well be God on this world. Against the Lord of Nazarik, she’s as defenseless as a baby mouse in the clutches of a cat, and Momon is merely keeping her alive long enough to learn something about martial arts on this world. And if he has a little fun with some evil showmanship, so much the better.

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It’s also worth noting that Momon isn’t the only one fighting with a handicap (though he’s mostly just standing around); Narbarel is fighting as “Nabe”, yet still holding her own. But when Momon gives the order, she sheds her alias with relish, and calmly and glibly explains to Khajit just how fuckin’ screwed he is before vaporizing his dragons in the blink of an eye and turning him into a steaming stain on the ground. His five years of evil toil over and done with, just like that. That’s the power…of one of Momon’s mid-level attendants.

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Having ordered Narbarel to quit messing around and finish up, Momon decides to do the same, setting his swords aside and letting Clementine buff herself up and come at him with everything she’s got, “fully prepared to die,” because while she thinks she has the upper hand against this “meathead”, death is all that awaits her once she enters his reach. She takes her shot, stabbing Momon through both eyes and blasting him with lightning and fire, but to no avail.

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…Then Momon grabs Clem, and things stop being funny for a couple minutes. Fear finally registers on her crazed countenance as she realizes no matter how much she flails and struggles and lashes out and sheds her teeth biting Momon, she cannot free herself, and he’s not going to let go. The plates attached to her outfit fall one by one and clank on the ground; her death knell.

This is Clem at her absolute most pathetic and sympathetic, but then Momon reminds us she took her time killing his adventuring companions, so he takes his time with her, squeezing harder and harder until she just…pops. Yikes. But hey, at least there’s still a body left, unlike Khajit. R.I.P. Clementine: I will miss your craziness, but it would have gotten old eventually.

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Their human opponents thus dealt with, Momon locates Nphirea, destroys the Crown of Wisdom, and carries him out, as Nabe collects the equipment of the defeated. For their trouble, they both get upgraded from Copper to Mythril plates (though they hoped for Orichalcum), and Momon arranges for Nphirea and his grandmother to move to Carne to make potions for him.

Then he checks his messages and learns of the next crisis in his quest to dominate this world: According to Albedo, Shalltear Bloodfallen has rebelled against him. Now, that sounds like bad news, but among the possibilities, Albedo may just be exaggerating about her rival for Momon’s heart, or Shalltear, while powerful, is still no match for Ains Ooal Gown and his remaining followers. But no matter how bad it ends up being, I’m certain of one thing: it will be fun—and occasionally disturbing—to watch Ains deal with it.

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OverLord – 08

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Given that the show had built Clementine up to be one of the toughest baddies yet to appear, it was pretty clear Nphirea was going to end up being captured, even with the Swords of Darkness defending him (one of which, who I thought sounded like a girl, turned out to be a girl). In the time it takes for Momon to register Hamusuke, Clem takes care of the lot of them, not just killing them, but turning them into zombies whom Momon has to put out of their misery. But before she does, she details her great plan, as villains are wont to do:

“…Although it’s impossible to control all the undead we summon, we’ll be able to lead them in various general directions! IT’S THE PERFECT PLAN!”

love this monologue by Clem, because she prefaces her assertion that her plan is perfect by pointing out that it’s not perfect. But Clem is strong and evil enough not to care that much about the details. As long as the world is on fire, she’s happy to watch it burn. Yuuki Aoi continues to breathe life into the “inhuman warrior” with her zany, gusto-filled performance.

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When Momon learns all his former comrades are dead, just like that, he is “displeased”; he doesn’t wig out or scream or fume like your average shonen hero. This is the undead OverLord, people; and Clem’s victims were above all “tools to raise his name,” not friends. His beef with her is the fact she destroyed his tools, not that she cut his close human bonds.

Furthermore, he treats Nphirea’s rescue as a transaction; his granny agrees to pay him everything she has to save Nphi, and Momon has no cumpunction whatsoever about exploiting a grandmother’s unconditional love. Notably, there’s a lot less internal monologue from Momonga this week, suggesting an ever-greater comfort in his new, apparently permanent overlord skin.

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Like Clem’s imperfect plan, even in an episode where most of the characters from the last couple of episodes have been murdered finds places to infuse moments of comedy, such as when Nabe has to carry Hamusuke on her back as she flies over the undead army in the cemetery.

Between that and all the scroll spells they cast to locate Nphirea, there’s a firm practicality to Momon’s course of action, which isn’t ideal due to the time constraints. He may not know the bad guys’ plans, but he knows Nphi isn’t long for his world if he dawdles. But in taking out the bulk of the zombie army before several city guard witnesses, he’s already succeeded in furthering his name. He just has to stick the landing by defeating the bosses.

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Finally, Momon and Nabe come face to face with Clem and Khaj, and I’m reminded of the cocky Slane army with their formidable-looking mecha-angels. Clem and Khaj aren’t exactly shaking in their boots, and Nabe’s first lightning spell, while taking out all of Khaj’s subordinates, only manages to give him a small scratch. So either Nabe’s going too easy on him, or he’s the first truly tough customer she’s had to deal with.

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Similarly, Clementine, she of the many tones of voice and twisted facial expressions, is confident she can take Momon, because she only knows of a few people who can hold their own in a fight with her. Of course, since one of those names is Stronoff, we know for a fact Momon will have no trouble eliminating her…eventually.

So it’s less a matter of if he defeats Clem, but how. Just to turn things around and piss her off, Momon declares he’ll implement a handicap in fighting her, refusing to go all out on her, no matter what. We’ve only seen playful, confident Clem up to this point, but I’m certain next week we’ll see her truly pissed off and on the defensive for perhaps the first time in her life. But one thing I can’t believe is that Momon will lose. If he does, it’ll be because he wants to.

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Shingeki no Bahamut: Genesis – 12 (Fin)

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I was wondering last week: “Why would Beelz be able to control Bahamut?” The answer?” Err…he can’t.

Bahamut is the third MAPPA anime we’ve reviewed at RABUJOI (the other two being Zankyou no Terror and GARO) that suffered from dull, uninspired villains (Beelzebub/Martinet, Five, and Mendoza, respectively). But that didn’t stop this from being the best Bahamut of the past seven episodes, oh-so-close to a return to the heady first handful of eps that made us fall in love with the show in the first place.

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Wait, his name is Gilles de Rais, and he can change his form to various people, from Lavalley to Kaisar to Martinet? Oh, whatever. The bad guy doesn’t matter so much as getting our trio of Fava, Kaisar and Amira back together and taking care of that little Bahamut-related problem. What does turn out being important is the fact that de Rais really just wants to watch the world end.

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Beelz wanted to grab control of the demon world and subjugate the realm of angels too. That wasn’t happening, as Bahamut is not a tool, he’s simply a means to an end…the end of the world. Azazel gets to finish Beelz off (good for him), while Fava wakes up from his arrow-induced nap and crosses swords with Kaisar once more as everything blows up around them.

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Fava seems to mouth something to Kaisar, who makes Rita promise not to interfere, and she doesn’t…but de Rais does, tossing a sword to Favaro, who uses it to slice off Kaisar’s arm just above the wrist. However, it’s that very wrist that has Kaisar’s still-active bounty armband attached to it. Fava uses it to capture de Rais into a stone tablet, which he tosses to Bacchus for a handsome reward!

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Turns out Favaro and Kaisar had a plan all along. The bolt Kaisar shot Fava with had the antidote on its tip, thus curing Favaro, then Kaisar cut off Fava’s arm to make sure de Rais would be convinced Favaro was still under his control. You have to ‘hand’ it to Fava and Kaisar: they work really well together in a pinch.

With that, the two board an embiggened Hamsa, but for different reasons: Fava thinks he has to kill Amira to stop Bahamut, but Kaisar holds out hope he can free her. Their aerial trip up to Bahamut’s head is suitably harrowing, and looks fantastic.

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When Hamsa can get no closer, the fact that Martinet’s goals (the end of the world) didn’t jive with the goals of either the gods or the demons (neither of whom want to die or for the world to end). Thus, both gods and demons work together to build a fresh barrier, which gives our heroes the opening they need.

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Once atop Bahamut’s head, the show never lets us forget this is a gigantic beast moving all over the place; as such, it’s hard to maintain footing, especially Kaisar, who’s down a limb. Favaro manages to plunge Bahamut’s own fang into the symbol on his head (a conveniently lit-up weak spot). This seems to start the process of shutting Bahamut down. By doing so, Favaro not only changes his fate and the fate of the world, but also Jeanne’s – she is merely a spectator in Bahamut’s demise.

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Fava falls off the head, but his rope keeps him suspended right in front of Bahamut’s eye, from which a glowing Amira emerges.

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In this gloriously-staged and touching farewell, Favaro tries to lie with a straight face one last time. When his face finally breaks into a goofy smile, Amira smothers it with her lips, thanking him for what he’s done before returning to Bahamut’s eye. Kudos to the show for not pulling a deus ex machina out of its ass to save Amira. I trusted the old dragon in the forest: there was no saving Amira, except to save her from being the instrument of the world’s destruction.

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When Bahamut blows, Favaro is way too close, and loses a leg (just as Kaisar lost an arm. Interesting symmetry), but Kaisar escapes aboard Hamsa. And thus, the world is saved, by the most unlikely group of characters imaginable!

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Fast-forward half a year, and Anatae is being rebuilt, Jeanne has a new ‘do and is back in the Orleans knights, Fava has a new metal leg, and Kaisar has a new metal arm. Kaisar seems poised to join Jeanne as a lieutenant, but as Favaro departs the city, Kaisar chases after him, just as he did in the first episode.

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Favaro is somewhat comforted (as am I) by the fact that while he’s asleep again, Bahamut will never truly die, which means neither will Amira. All in all, not a bad way to bring things to a close.

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Shingeki no Bahamut: Genesis – 11

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In “All Roads Lead to Abos”, Bahamut is bursting with big bold Bahamut battles, as befits a show nearing its big finish. Things weren’t going so swell last time we were here: Jeanne’s a demon, Favaro’s a demon, Amira’s a key, and practically everything is going Beelzebub’s and Martinet’s way. Oh yeah, and Kaisar is released from his crystal coffin to fall to his death.

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Meanwhile, with Azazel aboard Bacchu’s carriage, Rita continues to slave over her alchemy equipment, brewing…something, and the angels continue to drop one after another from the honeycomb barrier keeping Bahamut at bay. We see what Martinet had in mind for the great saint when Dark Jeanne swoops in on her stone dragon and skewers both Raphael and Uriel, weakening the barrier significantly before turning on Michael. What a terrible perversion of Jeanne’s power!

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Kaisar manages to catch the rope of Favaro’s (I think) crossbow, but falls again when everything starts shaking. Fortunately, Bacchus’ carriage arrives in time to catch him. UNfortunately, that’s when Goth Jeanne spots them, and she’s not going to leave them alone.

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This means Bacchus has to actually do something, but Jeanne knocks him off his carriage, forcing Hamsa to blow up like a balloon and catch him. Nice work, Hamsa. After bandying words with Azazel, Kaisar is given an antidote to give to Favaro by Rita, who prepares to toss a second into Visual Jeanne’s mouth. Unfortunately, Hamsa accidentally knocks Kaisar overboard (Fall #3) and deflects Rita’s severed arm-and-severed hand pill flick. Nice work, Hamsa.

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Jeannetallica seems poised to finish our motley crew off, but Michael swoops in, grabs her, and having caught Rita’s antidote, puts it in his mouth and transfers it to Jeanne’s with a kiss. Good ol’ Regular Jeanne is back, but is distressed to find she had already stabbed Michael through, dispersing (and possibly killing?) him. For his part, Michael is glad Jeanne still lives to lead humanity to salvation, but that’s looking like a taller order by the minute as Beelzebub nears Bahamut.

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Bacchus, Hamsa, and Rita arrive on his ship thing’s deck as Azazel, having saved Kaisar, starts to battle Beels mano-a-mano. Meanwhile, Kaisar turns his attention to Dark Fava, who doesn’t even fight like the Favaro he knows. Convinced he has no choice (or there’s no hope for him), rather than give him the antidote (I guess he lost it?) he fires a quarrel into Fava’s chest, disabling him. Obviously, this can’t be the end of Favaro, though.

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As for Keymira, she emerges from her red ball glowing pinkish purple, and lights spring forth from Bahamut (now free of his barrier) to snatch her up. Uh-oh…

Kaisar is surprised to find Lavalley has arrived, as am I. I’m even more surprised to know he wants Bahamut released. He then shoves Kaisar off the ledge (Fall #4).

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Even with gods arriving from left and right (well, actually, from above), things are still not going to hot for those who don’t want the world destroyed. Amira may already be one with Bahamut now, who wakes up in the last shot, apparently ready to throw some titular RAGE around. How in the heck is this mess going to get resolved?

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Shingeki no Bahamut: Genesis – 10

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This week puts two of our three ladies through the wringer, starting with Jeanne. While bound and burning at the stake as her defenders are slaughtered by the king’s soldiers, she has a vision of an angel who basically tells her they couldn’t care less about humans. Then she’s visited by the creepy red-eyed guy once more, and force-fed that suspicious potion he offered before.

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This turns Jeanne into a 1980s rock star demon…a pretty damn badass-looking one, too. She summons her guitar Maltet, makes a stone dragon rise out of the ground, and takes off. That’s not good. Bacchus witnesses this and is mildly concerned, as does Rita, who managed to get out of that situation in the lab and flags the god down for some questions.

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Meanwhile in Prudisia, Amira, Favaro and Kaisar are having a relatively uneventful journey when the damn ground shatters into bits and starts to rise into the air. Another huge demon beast/castle thing emerges, and dramatically transforms the environment…or lifts the illusory vail to reveal the real environment.

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The creepy red-eyed dude who transformed Jeanne (and probably poisoned the kings mind so he’d get her where he wanted her) shows up here too. His name is Martinet, and he’s very evil. I don’t like him. Amira remembers him as her ‘teacher’, who told her she’d be able to find her mother in Helheim. And Helheim, not Prusidia, is where they actually are.

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Rita hitches a ride with Bacchus and Hamsa’s carriage, which accientally runs over the fallen angel Azazel, who has apparently fallen again…out of favor with Lucifer, that is. The demonic doghouse, if you will.

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Back in Helheim, Martinet reveals his master, Beelzebub, who for whatever reason wants to release Bahamut. We’ve been told Bahamut is nothing but pure destruction for gods and demons alike, but I guess Beels has a plan. Unfortunately, he and his sneering assistant are nowhere near as interesting as Azazel and Cerberus.

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Getting back to that wringer our ladies go through: just when you thought Jeanne was having a bad day, Amira is shown her mother, an angel encased in ice, and once it shatters she’s kind of locked in a shocked expression. Amira was always told her mother could ‘take the key out of her’…but always thought that would be a good thing. It isn’t.

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As it turns out, Amira is merely a vessel for the key, created when Beelzebub did something awful to her mother. Amira has been manipulated by false memories contained in her pendant compelling her to come to Helheim at the proper time. Overcome with emotions, Amira goes over hugs her mom, which is a bad idea, because that causes her mom to crumble into a cloud of dust.

Worse, those nice clothes Fava bought her are all burnt up, so now she’s motherless, rudderless, and nude. Her resulting scream of anguish is the trigger that transforms her into the key Beelzebub wants.

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Bacchus and Rita are close enough to see the light of the spectacle. Knowing Bahamut is closer than ever to being revived, they know have to do something. That includes asking Azazel to help them out, which he agrees to do, if for no other reason than he doesn’t want to die either.

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Kaisar? He remains encased in a crystal coffin. Favaro manages to escape when he begs the bad guys to let him come over to their side (That’s So Favaro) but it’s just a trick, which Martinet sees through instantly, and then turns Fava into a demon, just as he did Jeanne.

That means perhaps the only ones who can save the world from Bahamut may be a group consisting of a zombie necromancer, a fallen angel, a drunken god, and a duck. The world is so screwed. Or is it?

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Shingeki no Bahamut: Genesis – 09

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Proving that slipping back into knighthood is like riding a bike, Kaisar gets the command of a search party to find Fava and Amira, and finds them almost immediately in the middle of a very cool forest that wouldn’t be out of place in Nausicaa or Mononoke Hime. Their own arrival there is punctuated by Amira reiterating that she can’t fly with just one wing, which is a pretty good running joke.

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Lavalley sent Kaisar because he wants to stay in the city, because some sketchy shit is going down, not least of which Jeanne has been framed for attempting to assassinated the king, who as we know isn’t the most confident fellow right now. Such is the extent of his paranoia, none of Jeanne’s very reasonable arguments sway him in the least.

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While imprisoned, a creepy red-eyed fellow pays Jeanne a visit and offers her something very suspicious to drink in order to “learn the truth about her gods”.  The guardian angel Michael is nowhere to be found, but Jeanne is staying true to her faith for now. She’s followed her faith and her fate this far; now’s not the time to be faltering or tasting weird drinks.

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Not long after Kaisar and Favaro pseudo-duel, the two of them plus Demon-Amira are suddenly transported to another dimension within the woods, where Kaisar and Amira worry at a large fang-like protrusion stuck in the very odd-looking ground. When they fail, they wordlessly look to Favaro to give it a go, and he yanks it out as easily as a dandelion, to his and everyone’s shock. And that’s not the only shock…

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That odd-looking green ‘ground’ is really the flesh of a massive and ancient dragon, who is glad to be rid of the barb, put there by Bahamut 2,000 years ago. I realize having a big ancient animal throw exposition at the heroes is a common trope in this genre, but this dragon is pretty frikkin’ awesome-looking and sounding, so I don’t mind. I also like how Amira initially calls him “geezer”, but Favaro tells her to call him “mister” instead.

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Of course, once the dragon says his piece — about how Bahamut’s reawakening and thus everyone’s destruction is inevitable, and only by staying here can Amira maybe stave it all off, meaning she’ll never see her mother — Fava himself uses “geezer” in rejecting the dragon’s talk of fate.

The dragon, perhaps impressed by the puny human’s audacity, wishes them well on their quest to change their fate. In any case, he can’t stop them. But he does pull Fava aside for a quick word before the trio departs.

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Back in Antae, the King has decreed that Jeanne is to be burned at the stake as a witch, which is bogus as hell. Lavalley’s entreats for clemency fall on deaf and possibly drunk royal ears. The fact that Rita is still free in the city gives us some hope Jeanne can escape this particular predicament, but Rita snoops around and is caught in the larder of the same sketchy red-eyed guy who probably put the king up to all this in the first place.

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Using the Bahamut barb, the trio warps to Prudisia earlier than I expected, though I welcome the quick transition. Something tells me a place called “The Valley of Demons” isn’t going to be a cakewalk, but Amira wants her mommy, so they’ll continue on.

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Oh yeah, about that word Puff wanted with Favaro…he tells him if he really wants to change fate — i.e. stop Bahamut from destroying the world, the only thing he can do, according to the dragon, is to kill Amira, thus destroying the key and preventing it and the seal from manifesting.

That’s a tough pill to swallow, and yet again puts Favaro on the darker side of gray, as well as giving him a much larger role to play in the affairs of the world, just as Jeanne suggested could very well come to pass.

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